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Full text of "Cross-country ski-ing"

Class _ Q^l I f 5, T 
Book >L % 



CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 



METHUEN'S SPORTS SERIES 


Illustrated, Fcap 


. Svo 


ALL ABOUT FLYING 


Gertrude Bacon 


GOLF DO'S AND DON'T'S 


Stancliffe 


THE GOLFING SWING 


Burnham Hare 


HOW TO SWIM 


H. R. Austin 


WRESTLING 


P. LONGHURST 


LAWN TENNIS 


A. E. Crawley 


SKATING 


A. E. Crawley 


CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING Arnold Lunn 


METHUEN & GO. LTD., LONDON 







H 

£- 
O 

H 

c/) 



CROSS-COUNTRY 
SKI-ING 



BY T(V»*** 

ARNOLD LUNN 



WITH DIAGRAMS AND EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS 



METHUEN & CO. LTD. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 

(to, *e 






First Published in IQ20 



PREFACE 
t 

CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING ' is neither a re- 
print nor revision of my first book on ski-ing, 
which has become out of date in the course of time. 
The present book has been written afresh. My 
views on the technique of ski-ing and on snowcraft 
have altered completely since my first book appeared. 

The aim of this little book is severely practical. 
I have confined myself in the main to the technique 
of ski-ing, and have attempted to provide the be- 
ginner with a handbook which will serve his purpose. 
At the same time I am rash enough to hope that even 
advanced runners may find something of interest in 
these pages. 

I have added a short chapter on snowcraft. In 
addition to the usual winter visits I have spent four 
entire winters in the High Alps, and the Alpine winter 
begins in October and ends in May. I have there- 
fore had unique opportunities for studying snow- 
craft. I may mention incidentally that some of the 
finest ski-ing that I have ever enjoyed has been in 
the month of May, and that there is no month in the 
Alpine year in which I have not had a first-class run 
either in the High Alps or at the lower levels. 

I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to 



vi CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

Vivian Caulfeild, who has read this book in proof 
and helped me with numerous suggestions, and to 
the following gentlemen who have kindly allowed 
me to reproduce their Ski-ing photographs: Herr 
Gyger of Adelboden, Monsieur Monnier of Montana, 
and my friend Captain Carlyon. In this book 
I have confined myself to cross-country ski-ing 
below the glacier line. I may perhaps be allowed 
to refer the reader intent on ski tours in the High 
Alps to my own contribution to Mountain Craft. 
Mountain Craft is edited by Mr. G. W. Young 
and contains contributions from many British 
mountaineers on all aspects of mountaineering. 

Arnold Lunn 

MfJRREN 



NOTE 

After the final proofs of this book had been sent to the 
press a friend pointed out to me that the phrase ' lean for- 
ward ' was liable to be misconstrued by beginners. 

Lean forward does not mean bend forward. 

In all ski-ing movements the body from the waist up- 
wards must be absolutely upright. It is fatal to bend 
forward from the hips. This is equally true for straight 
running and for the swings. In the Telemark, for instance, 
it is most important to get your weight forward and to 
avoid hanging back, but in the effort to do this you must be 
very careful to avoid bending the body above the waist. 

The body from the waist upwards must be upright and per- 
pendicular to the ski in all ski-ing movements. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER I 



PAGE 

Introduction i 



CHAPTER II 
Equipment n 

CHAPTER III 
Uphill and Straight Running .... 37 

CHAPTER IV 
How to Ski 46 

CHAPTER V 
The Elements of Snowcraft .... 106 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



1 Straight Running Frontispiece 

From a photo by Gyger, Adelboden, 

PAGE 

* Half-way through a Stemming Turn . . 60 

From a photo by Capt, Carlyon. 

j A Christiania Swing (I) . . ' . . . 68 

From a photo by Gyger, Adelboden. 

J A Christiania Swing (II) 74 

From a photo by Gyger, Adelboden. 

Starting a Downhill 'Closti' . . . • . 76 

From a photo by Monnier, Montana. 

' Right and Left Telemarks .... 82 

Fro?n a photo by Gyger, Adelboden. 

Half-way through a Downhill Telemark . 86 

From a photo by Gyger, Adelboden. 

v The Jump Turn 92 

From a photo by Monnier, Montana, 



CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

CHAPTER I 
INTRODUCTION 

I WILL begin by assuming that the reader has 
made up his mind to ski, and as the object 
of this book is severely practical I will not waste 
space by attempting to describe the joys of ski-ing. 
Ski-ing has one obvious advantage over all other 
winter sports ; skating depends on an artificial ice-rink 
and tobogganing on an artificial run. In the event 
of a thaw the skater or tobogganer is helpless, but 
there are very few conditions of snow which are so 
hopeless that the ski-runner cannot find ski-ing, 
though he may have to go some distance from the 
hotel in search of it. Apart from the actual joy of 
the movement, ski-ing is the noblest of all winter 
sports, for it opens to its devotees the whole mountain 
world, from the glacier to the humblest afternoon runs 
on the lower hills. Incidentally ski-ing is an all-the- 
year-round sport ; there is no month in the year in 
which I have not enjoyed first-class ski-ing, and there 
is no month in the year in which I have enjoyed better 
ski-ing than I have in May. Four days on ski among 



2 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

the glaciers of the Oberland in May stand out in 
memory as the very finest experience that the Alps 
have ever yielded me. Summer ski-ing is rapidly 
gaining in popularity, and the day is, perhaps, not far 
distant when the Club Huts will be provided with 
skis, and when the great snow peaks of the Alps, such 
as Monte Rosa, will hardly ever be ascended even in 
July or August by parties on foot. 

To attain proficiency to make long tours on skis 
is not at all a difficult matter. It is far easier to 
become a third-class ski-runner than a third-class 
skater ; first-class ski-ing, however, and first-class 
jumping require more nerve than perhaps any other 
sport, and are at least as difficult as first-class skating. 

One sometimes hears people remark that they pro- 
pose to devote themselves to skating rather than 
ski-ing because skating is always useful in England, 
whereas ski-ing is only useful in Switzerland. To those 
one can reply that there are plenty of opportunities for 
ski-ing in England, that even if this were not so the 
argument seems somewhat foolish. One would not 
expect a hunter in Africa to confine himself to potting 
rabbits, on the ground that he would have so few 
opportunities of shooting lions in England. I said 
that it is comparatively easy to learn to ski ; I have 
known many people who are quite hopeless at the 
ordinary English sports but who yet made very fair 
ski-runners. My own experience is very much to the 
point. Many years ago I was the victim of a serious 
mountaineering accident which left me with a short 
and lame right foot, a stiff ankle, and an open wound. 
Before I could manage to walk two miles on the level 



INTRODUCTION 3 

I had succeeded in climbing 3000 feet on the skis, and 
in ski-ing with reasonable speed and security. Even 
to-day I find great difficulty in descending a mountain 
in summer on foot. A foot descent causes me dis- 
comfort and pain, but I have more than once climbed 
8000 feet on skis in mid-winter, and I have averaged 
6000 feet of ascent in soft powder snow for four con- 
secutive days. I mention this in the hope of en- 
couraging other people who have been disabled, either 
in the war or elsewhere, to take up ski-ing. Many 
of those who have been partially disabled in this war 
would certainly be able to ski. 

I have assumed then that the reader is a novice, 
that he has never put on a pair of skis, and that he is 
anxious to discover the best way to set about ski-ing. 
First let him see that his outfit is complete and of 
good quality (see Chapter 11). 

For his first season the following are essential ; he 
must possess good skis, a pair of ski-ing boots, two 
ski sticks, sealskins, a rucksack and two or three 
pairs of gloves and some protection for his ears if the 
weather turns cold. This complete outfit can be 
purchased for less than a five-pound note. Whereas 
the golfer is always having to buy new balls, the ski- 
runner who treats his skis properly will find that a 
good pair of skis will last him for several seasons. 
Equipment for ski-ing is really ridiculously cheap as 
compared with such sports as golf or fishing. 

After purchasing his outfit, the beginner should put 
himself in the hands of a good ski teacher. There is 
no sport of which more can be learnt from a good 
teacher, or even from a good book, than ski-ing. The 



4 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

ski-ing turns and swings do not depend, unless ex- 
ecuted at a very high speed indeed, upon knack or 
intricate balance. There is only one difficulty about 
ski-ing — the fear of falling. If a beginner could be 
found who positively enjoyed falling on his head I 
would guarantee that he passed his second-class test 
within a fortnight. 

A Telemark turn, for example, simply depends on 
putting the skis in a certain position and resolutely 
holding them in that position throughout the turn. 
The only difficulty is that a beginner is so frightenecj 
of falling that he hangs back, and lets his skis run 
together. I believe that a perfectly fearless beginner 
would be able to carry out a slow, down-hill Telemark 
turn at his first attempt ; in fact I have seen a be- 
ginner do this. Any man whose nerve is not com- 
pletely hopeless, and who has got sufficient balance 
to stand steadily on one leg without waving the other 
leg in the air, should be able to become a really good 
ski-runner. I do not mean that he would equal a 
first-class Swiss or Norwegian runner, but he should 
be able to run fast on all ordinary snow, and to make 
all ordinary turns at a high speed, but in order to 
attain this standard he must be properly taught. 
Good teaching is, however, vital. Curiously enough 
the best performers are often the worst teachers. 
They make their turns without conscious effort and 
without conscious understanding of the process, so 
that Norwegians, who are the finest of all ski-runners, 
are sometimes indifferent teachers. Let me illustrate 
this with a short anecdote. In the early days of ski- 
ing Caulfeild was watching with great admiration a 



INTRODUCTION 5 

distinguished Norwegian runner executing some rapid 
Christianias. He approached him politely and asked 
him to explain the manoeuvre. The Norwegian re- 
plied, ' Oh, it 's quite easy, you just run down the hill 
like this, keeping your feet together. When you wish 
to turn you press your skis together, you lean to the 
left and edge your skis to the left, holding them close 
together.' He proceeded to show Caulfeild how this 
was done, and, of course, fell heavily on to his side. 
This made him very angry ; he immediately rushed 
up the hill again, flew down disregarding all his own 
theory, and executed a perfect Christiania without 
leaving Caulfeild any the wiser as to how the Christi- 
ania was effected. 

Seize every opportunity you can of watching Nor- 
wegians ski, but do not necessarily follow their advice. 
I once read a translation of a Norwegian book on ski- 
ing, and the descriptions of the turns and swings 
struck me as being absolutely unsound. The best 
teacher is the man who realizes the difficulties of 
learning, because he has himself taken so long to 
acquire the correct methods. 

It was not until Caulfeild wrote his book that the 
very simple theory which explains all ski-ing turns 
and swings was clearly and simply stated. Caul- 
feild's book produced a revolution in English ski-ing, 
which, until then, had been dominated by the timid 
and ugly Lillienfeld style. Ski-runners who, like the 
present writer, struggled for years without ever bring- 
ing off a really good swing, learned in a few days, 
either from Caulfeild himself or from his book, the 
simple secret of these very simple manoeuvres. 



6 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

The great difference between ski-ing and, shall we 
say, golf is this. If you put a beginner on a slope 
and make him, while he is still stationary, arrange 
his skis in a certain position, he is bound to execute 
a slow Telemark unless he loses his head. If, on the 
other hand, Harry Vardon was coaching a beginner 
at golf, no amount of instruction could ensure that 
the beginner would not slice or pull. A late cut at 
cricket or a long drive at golf involves knack, a good 
eye, and an unconscious control of one's arms so as 
to hit the ball in a particular way. A slow turn at 
ski-ing involves conscious control but neither knack 
nor intricate balance, nor a good eye ; it is simply a 
matter of doing as you are told. The only difficulty 
is that, whereas at golf a beginner who makes a bad 
shot does not do himself any damage, a ski-runner 
who does not pull off a swing is liable to fall, and 
though falling in soft snow is usually quite painless, 
it is always more or less disagreeable. If the beginner 
will copy out the general directions on page 57 and 
take this with him to the practice ground, he will, I 
think, find that he can make all the turns and swings 
at a slow speed at the end of a week. High speed 
comes with time, and of course a very fast swing does 
demand knack and a good natural balance, but a slow 
turn or swing only calls for a little pluck and the 
determination to do as you are told. At the end of 
his first week the beginner, who is properly taught, 
should be able to make a short tour of say 2000 to 
2500 feet without undue fatigue, and without too 
many falls. 

The beginner, duly provided with a good pair of 



INTRODUCTION 7 

skis and a good teacher, has reached the practice 
ground for his first lesson. If his teacher knows his 
business he will insist from the first that the beginner 
carries two sticks and that he never puts these two 
sticks into one hand. The beginner should realize 
that the sticks should only be used for helping him 
to climb, and that they should never be used to reduce 
his speed or to help out a turn. The beginner will 
never make a good ski-runner unless he realizes that 
the control of direction and the control of speed must 
be effected entirely by the correct weighting and the 
correct manoeuvre of the skis without the least help 
from the sticks. There are a few occasions when a 
more drastic use of the stick is permitted, but such 
occasions are rare, and the beginner can postpone any 
consideration of such possibilities until he has at least 
succeeded in passing the third-class test. 

The best snow in winter is usually found on 
northern slopes which are protected from the sun, 
and which therefore remains soft and powdery long 
after southern slopes have acquired a hard crust as 
the result of snow being melted and re-frozen at 
night. The average practice ground usually becomes 
hard and beaten down. Such snow is admirable for 
practising Stemming turns and Christianias, but a 
Telemark on a hard practice ground is very difficult 
indeed. For the Telemark the beginner should find 
a slope facing north which is more or less un tracked. 

By the time the beginner can make Stemming turns 
and Christianias on practice grounds he is very apt to 
have an exaggerated idea of his power and ability. 
It is one thing to go up and down one slope until its 



8 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

gradient is absolutely familiar, and it is quite another 
thing to ski over unknown country. You may be 
able to rush down the practice slope at a very fast 
speed, and yet fall repeatedly when running across 
country. Do not let your first tour depress you. 
You are always certain to fall far more than you 
expect, and the turns which you executed so easily 
on the practice ground or on some little slope near 
the hotel will suddenly seem beyond your reach. But 
if you persevere you will soon recover them. At 
almost every big centre there are tours for beginners, 
and tours specially graded according to the type of 
test which the ski-runner has passed. The natural 
tendency of every ski-runner is to avoid any speed 
at which he feels uncomfortable. This tendency 
must be fought. In a very short time you will be 
able to run steadily without falling at a certain speed, 
and it is quite possible to stagnate for several seasons 
unless one makes a deliberate and constant effort 
always to run rather faster than one likes, thereby 
raising what may be called one's safety speed. One 
of the best methods of raising one's safety speed is 
to enter for tests and races. When you are ski-ing 
against time you are bound to ski much faster than 
you would otherwise do. Seize every opportunity 
of ski-ing in a party whose average speed is faster 
than your own. At the same time you should be very 
careful not to force yourself on a party if the leader 
of that party shows any doubt as to your capacity 
to undertake the tour. This kind of thing is always 
happening — Brown, who is a good runner, gets up an 
expedition for moderate performers. Included in 



INTRODUCTION 9 

this expedition is a ski-runner whom we will call 
Smith ; Smith in the opinion of the leader is just 
capable of carrying through the tour — and only just. 
On the evening before the tour, Jones approaches 
Brown and explains that he is quite as good as Smith 
and would like to join the expedition. Brown knows 
that Jones, as a matter of fact, is rather worse than 
Smith, but he reluctantly consents. A few minutes 
later Robinson, who is rather worse than Jones, comes 
up to the unfortunate Brown and explains that he 
hears that Jones is going on the expedition, and he 
thinks if Jones could manage it he could manage it 
too. And so the process goes on, until Miss X. is also 
included in the expedition. Miss X. is considerably 
worse than Robinson, and Robinson is worse than 
Jones, and Jones is worse than Smith, and Smith 
represents the bare minimum of efficiency for the 
tour in question. Furthermore there is some peculiar 
fatality which ensures that a thoroughly inefficient 
runner should always start in the expedition with skis 
that do not fit, and with Huitfeld binding, which 
breaks half way down the mountain. The tour, 
which might have been quite a good tour if only 
Smith had been included, is a pure fiasco. Jones and 
Robinson become discouraged within five minutes of 
starting the run downhill, and Miss X. has to have her 
skis removed, while the unfortunate leader who organ- 
ized the tour walks downhill carrying her skis and 
making tracks in the deep snow. No good runner 
should object to taking expeditions composed of 
beginners, but he has the right to exclude anybody 
who is manifestly unfit, and it is very bad taste to 



io CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

thrust yourself on a party if the leader shows any 
hesitation as to your efficiency. Far and away the 
best plan is to attempt to pass the various tests, from 
the elementary test upwards, and to join tours the 
qualifications for which is the passing of such tests. 



CHAPTER II 
EQUIPMENT 

THE SKI 

I HAVE often noticed with surprise that men who 
have spent pounds on their equipment for other 
sports, who would not dream of trying to learn golf 
with hired clubs or borrowing a tennis racket for a 
season, will none the less cheerfully hire a pair of skis. 
This is all the more incomprehensible, because a broken 
ski near the summit of a mountain always means a 
spoilt run and sometimes involves the whole party in a 
very dangerous situation. A man who spends any- 
thing from £20 to £50 on a ski-ing holiday may well 
pay a premium of a few shillings in order to insure 
against broken skis and broken bindings. 

Even people who buy good skis often treat their 
skis with amazing carelessness. No good cricketer 
would go through a season without oiling his bat, but 
many good ski-runners are quite content if their skis 
are oiled in the summer. The extra money spent on 
buying really good skis and the extra trouble devoted 
to keeping these skis in good running condition are 
repaid a hundredfold. Hired skis are always in bad 
condition, they are almost always composed of very 
inferior wood, they are generally warped and out of 
line. I will assume then that the beginner has wisely 
decided to buy a first-class pair of skis. 

n 



12 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

The terminology of ski-ing is rather vague, and 
throughout this book I shall use certain terms to 
define certain parts of the ski. 

Fig. i represents a ski : the binding is omitted for 
the sake of clearness. The running surface of the 
ski which is next to the snow is not visible in this 



cgggggzaz^r , s ZZ 2 ' ' ZJ Zzzzz ^, ,, y , - -^ 



A 

FIG. I. 

figure. A is the heel of the ski, CD the up-turn, 
D the point. B is the arch of the ski, for a well- 
made pair of skis are not made absolutely flat, but 
slightly arched in the middle. 

DIMENSIONS 

The following table gives the length of the ski 
in metres for ski-runners of varying heights. Skis 
are sold in certain stock sizes, but Norwegian and 
Swiss firms have different standards, so that it is 
always wise to order the skis, not by stock size, but 
by length in metres. The beginner should choose 
his skis with the help of this table. 



Height of Ski-runner 
in feet. 


Length of Ski 
in metres. 


Stock 
size. 


6 feet 4 inches. 


2*36 


I 


6 „ 2 
6 „ o 


2-31 

2*26 


2 

3 


5 „ io 


2*20 


4 


5 » 8 „ 

5 >> 5t >> 


2-13 

2-05 


5 
6 


5 n 2| „ 


rgy 


7 





EQUIPMENT 




Height of Ski-runner 


Length of Ski 


Stock 


in feet 




in metres. 


size. 


5 feet o inches. 


1-89 


8 


4 » 9i 


>> 


i-8i 


9 


4 „ 7 


jj 


173 


10 


4 » 2j 


j> 


i-58 


11 


3 » 4 


>i 


1*26 


12 



13 



LONG SKIS VerSUS SHORT SKIS 

Long skis are steadier for straight running, they 
glide over slight inequalities in the ground which 
would shake a ski-runner on shorter skis. Long skis 
are faster, they sink less into the snow and are there- 
fore pleasanter both for the ascent and the descent in 
very soft snow. For jumping, of course, very long 
skis are essential. Short skis are easier to turn on ; 
they are lighter and involve rather less effort in the 
ascent. When the snow is difficult and hard, short 
skis have a distinct advantage for downhill turns, 
though a good runner can make his turns on almost 
any snow with long or with short skis. Turns on 
difficult snow involve more effort on long skis than 
on short skis. The kick turn on steep slopes is also 
much easier with short skis. 

I advise the beginner who is going to take ski-ing 
seriously to get two pairs of skis, his first pair of skis 
should be selected from the above table. As soon 
as possible he should get a ski at least a size longer, 
and he should use his long skis on moderate expedi- 
tions on good snow as soon as he has learnt to make 
his turns on his shorter skis. By this plan he will be 
able always to keep one pair of skis in the press and 



14 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

properly oiled. He will find his short skis useful even 
when he becomes more expert, when the snow is really 
difficult. Moreover if, as often happens, he goes off 
his Telemark or his Christiania, he will find an hour 
or so on the practice slope on the short skis the best 
cure. Just as a golfer who is off his drive will keep his 
driver in his bag and play with a cleek from the tee, 
so a ski-runner who is off his turns can often recover 
his lost form by using shorter skis. 

If the beginner can get hold of a pair of really 
short summer skis just for the purpose of learning his 
turns he will master stemming and the other swings 
in half the time that he would on long skis. Borrow 
the shortest pair you can find to learn turns, but buy 
your ski with the help of the table on pp. 12 and 13. 

My own height is six feet, and according to the 
above table my skis would be size 3. As a matter of 
fact I keep five different sizes. Size 1 for all ordinary 
expeditions when the snow is good, size 2 for very long 
expeditions or over difficult snow, sizes 3 and 4 for 
mountaineering in winter or spring. I have also got 
a very short pair of summer skis about i'6o metres 
in length for summer ski-ing. For a man of average 
build, skis, the point of which he can just reach with 
the tips of his fingers when placed upright will be a 
long pair, and will in general be about a size longer 
than the lengths given in the above table. 

Provided a ski-runner goes to a really first-class 
firm and orders a ski of the length which he considers 
most suitable for his purposes he need not bother 
very much about the width, thickness and general 
shape of the ski, as he can be certain that a good firm 



EQUIPMENT 15 

will know how to cut their skis properly. If, on the 
other hand, he buys his skis from a firm that is just 
beginning to make skis, the chances are that he will 
get a badly cut ski. I have seen skis in which the 
single groove was badly out of true, the up-turn 
warped and the two edges of the ski not symmetrical. 
In order to test a ski hold it by the heel so that a very 
much foreshortened view is obtained, and looking 
first along the upper side see whether the up-turn is 
true, and whether the point of the ski is exactly in 
the middle, then look along the sole and see whether 
the groove is central and quite true, and whether the 
edges are symmetrical. 

The width of the ski at the narrowest part varies 
from two and three-quarters to three inches. A 
narrow ski is steadier than a broad ski, more easy to 
turn and much easier to control during the traverse 
of a steep slope on hard snow. 

For jumping, where great flexibility is undesirable, 
skis should be chosen of ample thickness. A flexible 
and elastic ski is more comfortable for ordinary 
running. 

The up-turn of the ski should be about one-fifth the 
length of the entire ski and should be gradual, as an 
abrupt up-turn makes the sld run more slowly and 
less smoothly. The height of the arch should be only 
just sufficient to prevent the ski from resting on soft 
snow and bending downwards in the middle under 
the runner's weight. A ski which is too much arched 
is slow and difficult to turn. A ski which has lost its 
arch is unsteady on hard snow though very easy for 
turning. An otherwise good pair of skis should not 



16 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

be rejected because the arch is incorrect, as errors in 
the arch can quickly be corrected by strapping the 
skis together with a wedge of anything handy, such 
as wood or books. 

The groove. — Skis occasionally are sold without a 
groove. These should never be bought, as the groove 
keeps the skis straight and makes an appreciable 
difference in turning. For jumping, in fact, skis 
should be provided with one main groove and two 
slighter grooves. 

WOOD AND GRAIN 

Skis are made of various woods, and though service- 
able skis can be fashioned from birch or pine, they 
cannot compare with skis made from ash or hickory. 
Hickory is heavier and slightly stronger than ash. 
It wears rather better but it is less elastic, and though 
after hard use the running surface of a hickory ski is 
generally in better condition than that of an ash ski, 
I believe that hickory skis, owing to its lesser elas- 
ticity, is more liable to break. At any rate, having 
tried both, I prefer ash. 

Grain. — It is a very great mistake to pay too much 
attention to the grain. I possess a pair of skis with 
absolutely perfect parallel straight grain on the run- 
ning surface, but I would never use them for a tour 
of any length owing to their lightness. Good ash is 
always heavy and though heavy skis are a nuisance 
to carry, a ski-runner should choose ash rather by 
its weight than by its grain. Provided the grain is 
parallel with the edge of the ski at the up-turn, and 



EQUIPMENT 17 

provided the grain on the sides of the ski runs back- 
wards from the tip and not forwards towards the tip, 
and provided the ash is heavy, the ski-runner need 
not bother very much even if the grain is irregular. 
The objection to grain which runs out towards the tip 
is that as the skis begin to wear splinters will form 
which will point forwards, and so impede progress. 

Heavy ski are troublesome uphill but much pleas- 
anter to ski on, especially on uneven snow. They 
drive smoothly through ridges of hard snow which a 
light pair of ski will glide roughly over. 

Life of a ski. — A good pair of skis should stand at 
least six months of continuous ski-ing, that is to say 
six ordinary seasons. Skis wear out much more 
quickly on hard than on soft snow, and a few days 
ski-ing on really hard snow tries the skis as much as 
many weeks on powder snow. 

When the skis begin to wear the grain stands out, 
and if the grain is irregular this makes running diffi- 
cult. It is, however, perfectly simple to send the 
skis down to any first-class firm, who will scrape the 
running surface and send it back quite smooth. A 
ski which would otherwise run very irregularly can 
easily be transformed into a first-class pair by this 
process. 

Colour of the skis. — Black skis look very handsome, 
and are useful for running in a mist or by moonlight, 
as the black ski points help to throw up the back- 
ground and to reveal the gradient. On the other 
hand, black skis are a nuisance on warm days as the 
snow which collects on the exposed surface melts, 
more readily on dark than on light skis, so that black 

B 



18 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

skis are apt to collect an accumulation of wet snow 
and ice. 

THE BINDING 

There are two main types of bindings, those in 
which the toe-irons are fixed to the skis, and those in 
which the toe-irons are movable and in which the 
point of revolution is in front of the toe. These 
bindings are sometimes called heel and sole bindings 
respectively. This is misleading, for though most 
sole bindings, such as the Lillienfeld and Bilgeri have 
movable toe-irons, the Ellefsen, which has rigid toe- 
irons, is also a sole binding, and though most heel 
bindings (i.e. those in which the strap passes round 
the heel), such as the Huitfeld, have rigid toe-irons, 
the Schuster is a heel binding with movable toe-irons. 
I prefer to use the term rigid binding for those in 
which the toe-irons are fixed to the skis, and the term 
spring binding for those in which the toe-irons are 
attached to a plate which revolves vertically round 
a point in front of the toes and is controlled by a 
spring. 

Rigid Bindings. — There are numberless rigid bind- 
ings on the market, of which the best known are the 
Huitfeld, the Ellefsen and the BB. I have experi- 
mented not only with these three bindings, but with 
almost every binding on the market, and I have come 
to the conclusion that the BB is far and away the best 
rigid binding as yet invented. The Huitfeld is per- 
haps the most popular, but it suffers very serious dis- 
advantages. The straps are always wearing out just 
underneath the toe-irons, and in crusted snow they 



EQUIPMENT 16 

impede progress, and on traverses are constantly 
catching. Beginners never seem to be able to fix 
their Huitfelds properly, the binding is not very easy 
to repair on tour, the leather is always stretching, so 
that the binding needs regular adjustment, and lastly, 
the binding has become rather expensive owing to 
the rise in the value of leather. However as many 
— if not most — runners use the Huitf eld, the following 
points about the Huitfeld must be noted. 

In adjusting a new Huitfeld binding to your boots 
note carefully the following points : — 

(i) When the binding is adjusted there should be 
just enough freedom to allow the knee just to touch 
the front of the ski. Therefore the toe-irons should 
be fitted so that when the boot is thrust home the toe 
only just projects beyond the toe-strap. If the toe- 
strap crosses the boot too far back a fall forward 
may strain the foot. 

(2) The heel must come in the middle of the ski. 
This involves the fact that the inside toe-iron is less 
inclined to the side of the ski than the outside toe- 
iron. If the toe-irons are symmetrical the boot heel 
will be too much on the inner side of the ski. 

In order to adjust the toe-irons in conformity with 
these requirements they must be hammered or bent, 
and a heavy screw wrench is very useful for this pur- 
pose. 

(3) The toe-strap — if the toe-irons are properly 
adjusted — may be quite loose. The heel-strap must 
be so tight that it is only just possible to pull it over 
the heel. To prevent the heel-strap slipping off the 
boot the heel of the boot should be made to project, 



20 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

and both top and bottom of this projection should 
be rounded off so that the strap can be easily pulled 
off and on. This is a simpler and more satis- 
factory arrangement than the buckle and strap with 
which many ski boots are fitted. It is essential 
that this heel-strap should be tight, as its tension 
limits the vertical movement of the foot and so makes 
it easier to lift the heel of the ski, and also by driving 
the boot into the toe-irons prevents nearly all lateral 
movement. 

If the toe-irons loosen and tend to wobble, small 
wooden wedges may be driven between them and the 
hole in the ski, but these wedges should be fixed beside 
and not below the toe-irons or the ski may split. 

The beginner should not entrust the adjustment of 
his ski to the hard-worked professionals in charge of 
hired ski. They have to adjust several pairs a day, 
a troublesome business, and they are not likely to 
devote sufficient trouble to each individual case unless 
they are supervised. Too much importance cannot 
be attached to the accurate adjustment of toe-irons 
and straps. Every one who uses a Huitfeld should 
carry with him on tour a ' Lapp thong ' which can 
be fitted up as a make-shift binding should the 
Huitfeld break. 

SPRING BINDINGS 

Ski-runners whose toes are stiff, either naturally or 
as the result of an accident, must use spring bindings. 
If they use the rigid binding, such as the Huitfeld or 
BB, they will not be able to kneel on their skis or to 



EQUIPMENT 21 

Telemark. In the event of a bad forward fall they 
will perhaps damage themselves, and in any case 
suffer severe pain. As the result of a badly broken 
leg, the toes of my own right foot are very nearly 
rigid, and various attempts to ski with the Huitfeld 
binding resulted in acute pain when I fell forward, 
and consequently a very nervous style of running in 
order to avoid forward falls. There are many people 
whose toes are naturally stiff. In order to test this, 
before ordering a pair of skis put on your boots and 
see if you can almost touch the ground with your 
knee, keeping the ball of your foot and your toes on 
the ground. If you can get within six or eight inches 
of the ground with your knee before the ball of your 
foot leaves the ground you will be able to use a rigid 
toe binding, otherwise you must use a spring binding. 

The earliest form of spring binding is the well- 
known Lillienfeld, which was invented by Herr 
Zdarsky. Zdarsky rendered a very great service to 
ski-ing in Austria ; though he taught a bad style, he 
persuaded thousands to take up ski-ing. Much the 
same may be said of his binding. The binding has 
now been superseded by far better bindings on the 
same principle, but though no modern ski-runner 
would use the Lillienfeld, all those who have stiff toes 
have reason to be grateful to Zdarsky for his invention 
of spring bindings. 

The Bilgeri is lighter and more comfortable than 
the Lillienfeld. The Bilgeri, however, has one fatal 
disadvantage. It is very liable to break, and once 
broken it is impossible to repair. I have broken five 
Bilgeri bindings in as many weeks, after which I 



22 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

decided that the Bilgeri, despite its many good points, 
was not the binding for a man who made long tours. 

The Schuster binding is a spring binding which is 
thoroughly reliable. It possesses the usual feature 
of spring bindings, the toe-irons are movable and 
revolve vertically round a point in front of the toes. 
The vertical motion is controlled, as in all spring 
bindings, by a strong spring. 

The metal sole-plate of the Lillienfeld and Bilgeri 
is replaced by heel-straps very like the Huitfeld, with 
the usual Ellefsen clamp. Full particulars as to 
fixing on the binding are supplied in the booklet 
issued by the makers. The first few days the toe- 
irons need constant re-adjustment, as they are apt to 
work loose. They are adjusted by means of a key 
and screws, but after a week or so they need very little 
alteration. 

I have never known the main part of the Schuster 
binding break or get out of order, nor have I known 
the heel-strap break. It is, however, perfectly easy 
to carry a spare heel-strap, which can be fitted with 
the greatest possible ease in a few seconds. It is 
most important to remember to carry the Schuster 
key on tour. It should always be left at the bottom 
of the rucksack ready. 

Rigid Bindings versus Spring Bindings. — Many 
people use spring bindings whose toes are not stiff. 
This, I think, is a mistake. I am in a unique position 
for comparing rigid bindings with spring bindings, 
ski-ing for many seasons with a spring binding 
(Schuster) on my damaged leg and a rigid binding 
(the BB) on my sound leg. The disadvantages of 



EQUIPMENT 23 

spring bindings are as follows : — They are very much 
heavier than rigid bindings ; the foot is higher above 
the ski on a spring binding because the foot, instead 
of resting on the ski, rests on a metal plate or toe-piece. 
The more the foot and the ski move as one and the 
closer they are together, the easier the balance. The 
vertical control in spring bindings, though regulated 
by the spring, is much slacker than in rigid bindings. 
Climbing in rigid bindings is more comfortable than 
in spring bindings. In deep snow, if the back of the 
ski gets caught it is often difficult and very tiresome 
to extricate the ski if you are using a spring binding. 
For straight running in Telemark position it is diffi- 
cult to control the back ski if you are using spring 
bindings. I always, where possible, run with my bad 
leg leading so as to keep my BB ski behind. I also 
find the Telemark turn very much easier to control if 
the back foot is attached to the ski by a rigid binding. 

To sum up, I advise people with normal toes to use 
the BB binding, and those with stiff toes to use the 
Schuster binding. Those who, like myself, have got 
one normal foot and another foot with stiff toes, 
should use a Schuster binding on the damaged foot 
and a BB binding on the other foot. 

The BB Binding, — The BB binding entirely dis- 
penses with the heel-straps. It involves a permanent 
attachment to the boots consisting of a small prong. 
The boot is put through the toe-irons, and there is an 
ingenious arrangement for securing the prong and 
clamping it into position. The toe-irons need to be 
very exactly fitted, and what has been written of the 
Huitfeld applies, as far as toe-irons are concerned, to 



24 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

the BB. Once they are fitted even the toe-strap is 
unnecessary, so that absolutely no straps are necessary 
for the BB binding, though as a matter of fact the 
toe-strap is usually kept. The binding is extremely 
easy to put on and to take off, and most reliable. It 
was adopted by all the British officers interned at 
Miirren, and given a thorough trial during the winter 
season which began in October and ended in May. 
I myself use it constantly and have tested it on very 
severe expeditions. I have never known a BB break 
down on tour or elsewhere. It is sometimes objected 
that the iron prong which is worn on the boots would 
be a nuisance during an ascent on foot on very hard 
snow or on easy rocks. I have never found this to be 
the case, and as all ski-runners use crampons when 
climbing such slopes on foot there is not the least 
reason why the toe-iron should interfere. I have done 
a number of big peaks, such as the Aletschhorn, 
Wetterhorn, etc., with the BB and I am thoroughly 
satisfied that it is the best binding on the market. 
It is sometimes claimed that the BB is not so safe a 
binding as the Huitfeld. It certainly has not quite so 
much lateral play, but the percentage of accidents 
with the BB is certainly not higher than with any 
other binding. 

As to the adjustment of the BB binding, a great 
deal that has been written above with reference to 
the adjustment of the Huitfeld binding applies 
equally to the BB. A Lapp thong should be carried 
on tour, so that if anything should happen to the BB 
clamp a Lapp thong can be adjusted to form a 
make-shift binding. 



EQUIPMENT 25 

CARE OF SKIS 

It is surprising how little care the average runner 
bestows upon his skis, a casualness which spoils his 
ski and consequently his runs. 

The running surfaces of new skis should be re- 
peatedly oiled with raw Unseed oil until the wood is 
saturated. It is no use continuing to oil them once 
the oil sticks on the surface without sinking in. The 
skis should be put in the sun to dry between each 
coating of oil. It is a tiresome process, and it is best 
when ordering skis before the winter season to ask 
the firm that supplies them if they will give them their 
preliminary oiling. Many ski-runners seem to think 
that this preliminary oiling is all that is necessary 
— a great mistake. The first oil soon rubs off, and it 
is an excellent plan to oil the skis at the end of every 
day's run for at least a week or two. A slight oiling 
is all that is necessary, and the oil should be rubbed in 
with a rag. This unpleasant task can be entrusted 
to the ' Boots/ When this process has been repeated 
half a dozen times or so, the ski should then be given 
a coat of hard wax. The wax which is sold under the 
modest name of c The Best ' is very good for this 
purpose ; it should be rubbed into the skis with an 
iron which is slightly warm : this gives a beautifully 
fast and even running surface. This hard wax should 
be rubbed in about once a week or so. 

The object of oiling and waxing is not only to pre- 
vent the ski sticking in the snow, though this of course 
is very important, but it is also intended to preserve 
the skis in good condition. Any wood which is ex- 



26 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

posed to damp begins to rot and to warp. The oil 
and the wax preserve the skis from damp. The run- 
ning surfaces of my own skis are always absolutely 
black with oil and wax, and the nioment this black 
surface begins to wear off I renew the oiling and wax- 
ing process. Dampness not only rots the wood but 
it makes the skis warp, and warped skis are extremely 
uncomfortable to ski on. In order to prevent skis 
warping it is very important to keep them in an 
equable temperature. Beginners often take their 
skis with them up to their rooms and leave them in a 
warm corridor. If this is done the skis should be 
thoroughly dried first, as nothing is worse for skis than 
to leave then in a damp condition in a very warm 
atmosphere after they have been out in the snow. 
It is far best to leave them in some shed where the 
temperature is below freezing. In any case, when you 
come in from your run you should remove all super- 
fluous snow from your skis and dry them with a rag. 
Skis will not keep their shape unless they are constantly 
pressed. Far and away the best plan is to have two 
pairs of skis, and to keep one in the press for a few 
days at ajtime while you are using the other, and 
vice versa. 

Even when the skis have been thoroughly oiled 
snow will sometimes be found to stick, so that level 
walking or climbing is very hard work and sliding 
downhill impossible. The hard wax known as ' The 
Best ' is not very easy to apply on tour, as it needs 
warming slightly in order to get a good surface. It 
is best to keep this wax for indoor preparation, and 
to carry in your sack some of the collapsible tubes of 



EQUIPMENT 27 

soft wax which are sold by every ski-ing firm. This 
wax can be rubbed on to the surface of the ski with 
a rag, and the effect is generally very satisfactory. 

Beginners often assume that fast ski are difficult 
to ski on. Of course a ski which is thoroughly waxed 
would be very difficult to climb on. This does not, 
however, apply to skis which have been well prepared 
by oiling. Oil merely prevents wet snow sticking to 
the skis, and a well oiled pair of skis is quite easy to 
climb on even without sealskins. Beginners should 
remember that slow, sticky skis are far more likely to 
upset them than a fast pair of skis, and that the worst 
falls are the result of skis suddenly sticking in the 
course of a run. Fast skis may run faster than slow 
skis, but they also run more smoothly and more easily. 

REPAIRING A BROKEN SKI 

A broken ski is unfortunately a by no means un- 
common accident. A ski is most likely to break at 
the up-turn. If the broken point is not lost, as often 
happens in deep snow where it is sometimes sur- 
prisingly difficult to find even large objects that have 
buried themselves in a drift, it is best to mend the 
break with what is known as a Norwegian clamp. 
It is necessary, of course, to carry something to drive 
a hole through the ski. See that the clamps are deep 
enough to be used even if the ski breaks a few inches 
in front of the binding. Most clamps at present on 
the market are too shallow. The best type of clamp 
are those provided with winged nuts which can be 
screwed on with the fingers. This saves carrying a 



28 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

special spanner to tighten up, which would be needed 
for ordinary nuts. Commonsense will ensure that 
the broken parts of the ski should be overlapped. 
If the nuts have been left at home a rough but effec- 
tive substitute can be made by boring four holes in 
each of the two broken parts of the ski and thread- 
ing a stout piece of string through them. This has 
been tried with fairly satisfactory results. 

False metal tips are sold which can be used if the 
point is lost. These are not satisfactory. (The best 
is the model invented by Major Pery.) In the first 
place they do not hold on very firmly. In the second 
place they make the ski run badly. For long ex- 
peditions a spare wooden up-turn is sometimes carried. 
This is a good plan, especially if the party includes a 
guide or porter to carry extra kit. The spare metal 
tip is short and abruptly curved in order to make it 
conveniently portable. A wooden tip is the shape of 
an ordinary ski-tip, long and gradual. 

SKI STICKS 

The beginner must buy a pair of ski sticks. On no 
account let him begin to ski with a single stick as he 
will fall into bad habits at once. All modern ski 
sticks are supplied with disks to prevent the sticks 
sinking too far into the snow. There is a very good 
pattern sold in which the disk can be removed by 
means of a screw. This is useful, as the disks wear 
out very quickly, and with such sticks a new disk can 
be fitted in a few minutes. They have another 
advantage, when it sometimes happens on dangerous 



EQUIPMENT 29 

ground that one wants to remove the disk altogether 
so as to drive the stick deep into the snow. 

Ski sticks are usually provided with little leather 
thongs at the top which are pleasant for climbing. 
Ski-runners sometimes put their hands through the 
thongs on the descent in order not to lose the sticks 
should they fall. This is a most dangerous habit as 
in the event of a bad fall the stick is apt to be flung 
round and strike the ski-runner. Sometimes too the 
stick remains fixed in the snow and the ski-runner is 
thrown across it. I have known two runners break 
their wrists through ski-ing with their hands in this 
loop. 

Sealskins. — Detachable sealskins are a great aid to 
climbing, as they prevent back slipping. Detachable 
sealskins are sold in various forms. It is better to 
buy a sealskin that covers the whole length of the ski. 
Half length sealskins prevent back slipping, but whole 
length serve another purpose, as they prevent wet 
snow sticking to the surface of the ski in heavy masses. 
They should fit well, and be adjustable by clamps and 
not by buckles. For long tours they are almost 
indispensable, as they save at least twenty per cent, in 
time and labour. A runner who always uses seal- 
skin can keep the running surface of ski much more 
highly waxed or varnished than the runner who 
climbs on naked ski. 

A slippery ski, failing sealskin, may be prevented 
from back-slipping by tying one end of a cord to its 
tip, passing a few half hitches round it at intervals, 
hauling all tight, and tying the other end of the cord 



30 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

to the binding. This, however, is a very unsatisfac- 
tory arrangement compared to the sealskin. The 
sealskin is so arranged that the lie of the hair allows 
it to slide forward but not backwards. The ski can 
therefore be slid at each step. With a roped ski they 
must be lifted, a tiresome performance. Moreover 
on most climbs there is an occasional section of de- 
scent. With sealskins it is possible to run downhill 
if the gradient is steep or the snow hard, as downhill 
the skins check but do not entirely prevent running. 
A man with roped ski has either to remove the rope 
or walk downhill. 



BOOTS 

The boots should be at least large enough to admit 
a pair of stockings and a pair of thick goat's-hair socks. 
For mountaineering and indeed for ordinary tours 
three pairs of socks are almost indispensable. It is, 
however, no use padding a boot with socks or stock- 
ings unless your toes have plenty of room to move. 
Anything that restricts the circulation is dangerous. 

The boots are apt to wear away against the toe- 
irons, and a useful device is to screw thin plates of 
metal to the sides of the sole at these points. Boots 
should, of course, be frequently greased and oiled. 

Many ski-runners have no nails in their ski-ing boots. 
This superstition is imported from Norway, where 
the country is gentler and the need for nails is less. 
Alpine country abounds in steep wood-cutter's tracks, 
where the ski-runner without nails in his boots is at 
a very serious disadvantage. I remember once 



EQUIPMENT 31 

descending a wood-cutter's track late at night on foot 
carrying my ski. I fell heavily every five minutes. 
This was the last occasion on which I ever ski-ed 
with nailless ski-ing boots. Nails do not interfere 
with the steering and are of the greatest possible 
advantage in the ascent of hard snow or icy paths. 
Of course, the ski-runner does not need as heavy nails 
as the mountaineer, as on serious expeditions he 
must carry crampons, but a few good nails are essen- 
tial. 

CRAMPONS 

For all glacier tours crampons are essential. The 
small four-pointers are tiresome to walk on and should 
not be bought. Six, or better still, eight pointed 
crampons made by a good firm should be used. 
Crampons are not pleasant things to carry in a sack, 
and the handy little case for crampons which is now 
on the market is well worth getting. 

CLOTHING 

A ski-ing suit should button tightly at the wrists, 
and should be provided with a collar which can be 
turned up and buttoned round the neck. Trousers 
are far preferable to knickerbockers. Any wind- 
proof water-proof material will serve. A rough 
material collects snow. The sweater lets the wind 
through and collects snow. Ski-ing clothes should 
be as compact as possible so that they can be taken 
off when the sun is warm and stuffed into a rucksack. 
For mountaineering an extra waistcoat made of silk 



32 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

is very useful. Even paper waistcoats are warm 
and serviceable. With trousers very small gaiters 
should be worn round the ankle to prevent the snow 
getting in between the trousers and the boot. I 
designed a gaiter which was about six inches deep 
and broad enough to go round the ankle with a good 
deal to spare. This is provided with three little straps, 
and two holes through which the bootlaces can be 
drawn so as to keep it firmly in place. This is a far 
better arrangement than the little Norwegian puttee 
which just winds round the ankle. Puttees should 
never be used, as they restrict the circulation — there 
were many frost-bites in France owing to puttees — for 
puttees must either be tight, in which case they look 
neat but restrict the circulation, or loose, in which 
case they have a slovenly appearance and tend to slip. 

Gloves should be of the mit pattern, that is to say, 
there should be one compartment for the thumb 
and another for all the fingers. They should be 
made of some water-proof material and lined inside 
with wool. Fur gloves are excellent. 

For headgear the ordinary ' Passe-montagne ' is 
very serviceable. A silk scarf is invaluable, as this 
can be tied on under one's cap if one uses a cap, thus 
protecting the ears and chin. 

ODDS AND ENDS 

Rucksack. — The best rucksack for ski-ing is the 
well-known Bergans model used in the Swedish Army. 

Spectacles. — Even in the winter, when the light is 
not strong, a pair of lightly-coloured spectacles is 



EQUIPMENT 33 

. necessary, especially for people with weak eyes. A 
light yellow is the best colour. Light yellow spec- 
tacles are very useful when ski-ing in a mist or when 
the sky is overcast, as they seem to throw out the 
foreground and to enable one to pick out the gradient 
much more easily. For ski-ing in May on the glaciers 
spectacles should be so dark that it would be almost 
impossible to see anything in an ordinary room into 
which the sun was not shining directly. Spectacles 
made of ' Triplex ' glass are far and away the safest, 
as there is no danger of broken glass in the event of 
a bad fall. 

Face Cream. — After February the sun becomes 
very strong and some kind of face cream is useful. 
Of course for mountaineering at any time, except in 
mid-winter, such face cream is essential. ' Anti-Lux ' 
and ' SecluS ' cream are both excellent. 

Compass and Aneroid Barometer.— A. good compass 
is essential. I find an aneroid barometer almost as 
indispensable ; an aneroid barometer is not only a 
constant interest in checking heights, but it is also 
very useful for indicating the approach of bad weather. 
Most Club Huts are provided with barometers but 
there are plenty which are not, and an aneroid baro- 
meter will often give warning to a ski-runner, who has 
arrived at a height in fine weather, that a storm is 
approaching, even though the next day may appear 
perfectly fine at dawn. A word of warning is very 
necessary. All aneroids tend, as Whymper proved 
by a series of interesting experiments, to lose upon 
the mercurial, in other words, an aneroid which has 
been carried up 6000 feet and then remains at the 



34 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

same height for some hours will always drop, even 
though the mercurial barometer remains completely 
steady. An aneroid will therefore apparently register 
a fall in atmospheric pressure even though the atmo- 
spheric pressure remains stationary. The variation 
varies very much with different aneroids. My own 
aneroid loses about one-tenth of an inch during the 
first twelve hours at a Club Hut which is about 5000 
feet above the starting-place. Similarly, an aneroid 
will gain on mercurial after a big descent : thus if one 
descends from Monte Rosa to the Betemps Hut, the 
aneroid would tend to indicate a rise in atmospheric 
pressure even though the atmospheric pressure had 
remained stationary or possibly even diminished. 
This would, however, to some extent, be compensated 
for by the fact that the aneroid had been still losing 
during the ascent to the summit of Monte Rosa. The 
reader who is interested in such matters should con- 
sult Wymper's book on aneroids. The Watkins' 
aneroid has a mechanical adjustment which obviates 
this loss on the mercurial, but the Watkins is far 
too big and weighty for any but scientific mountain- 
eers whose primary object is the surveying of a new 
region. 

In mist the aneroid is often extremely valuable, as 
it enables one to locate one's position on a given 
contour. Even if you do not know exactly where 
you are, it is at any rate extremely valuable to know 
your height above sea level so as to limit your position 
to a given contour on a Siegfried. 

Lantern. — On all tours of any length a folding 
lantern should be carried. 



EQUIPMENT 35 

Ice- Axes. — There is an excellent ice-axe, made by 
a Saasfee guide, with a detachable head, so that the 
axe can be used as an ordinary ski-ing stick when the 
head is not required. My guide, Knubel, always uses 
such an axe, and I have seen him do some very solid 
step-cutting with it. When not in use the axe head 
is carried in the rucksack. The disk is also detach- 
able. Knubel has used this pattern of ice-axe for 
many years and has never known it fail. Ski- 
runners will find that an ordinary ice-axe is clumsy 
and dangerous. On most glacier tours it is only 
necessary for the leading guide to carry an axe, and 
the amateur need very seldom burden himself with 
an ice-axe. 

Carrying-Straps. — Carrying-straps are useful for 
very awkward passages when the skis have to be 
removed. The skis can then be slung over one's 
back and all risk of dropping them is obviated. 

Ropes. — Guides should not be allowed to use up 
their old summer ropes in winter, a habit which 
has resulted in fatal accidents. Ropes break more 
easily in winter than in summer, and should therefore 
be new and as strong as possible. 

Knife. — A good knife should always be carried on 
tour, and the pattern supplied to officers in the Swiss 
Army is about as good a knife as one can want. 

A good ball of stout string should always be in one's 
rucksack. It should be long enough to enable one to 
drag one's skis with comfort, and strong enough to 
use as an emergency binding. 

I never go on tour without a First-Aid case con- 
taining bandages, etc. Various good patterns are 



36 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

on the market. A few grains of morphia would be a 
useful addition ; one-eighth of a grain might be given 
safely in the case of a bad accident, and would make 
a considerable difference to the victim's comfbrt 
during the process of getting back. 



CHAPTER III 

UPHILL AND STRAIGHT RUNNING 

S~\ N the level. — The first step is to put on your skis, 
^s taking care that your toes do not protrude too 
far through the toe-iron, or in the event of a severe 
fall you will get a bad wrench. They should protrude 
so far as to allow you just to kneel on your skis. On 
the level do not lift but slide your skis, and keep them 
parallel and as near together as possible. Give a 
good lunge forward on the right foot, striking off with 
the stick in your left hand. Lean well forward with 
your stick as far back as possible after throwing your 
weight on to the leading foot. Don't bring the other 
foot up to it until the slide is nearly finished. You 
will go faster if you use two sticks. Four or five 
miles an hour is a very fair pace on hard snow. 

Kick turn. — The kick turn is an easy and indis- 
pensable manoeuvre. 

(On the level.) Lift the left ski with a sharp 
swinging movement, keeping the knee unbent and 
the front part of the ski well forward. Without stop- 
ping, swing the ski round outwards and downwards 
and lay it down beside the right ski. Then bring 
the right ski round parallel to the left ski. It is easy 
to do this without sticks, and in no case should you 
lean heavily on the sticks during the turn. 

37 



38 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

(On a slope). — Where the slope is not too steep you 
had better start with the top foot. You should 
point the ski slightly uphill before beginning the turn. 
On a steep hill-side in deep snow, it is perhaps better 
to begin with the bottom ski. 

Climbing. — If the gradient is not very steep, you 
may slide uphill in much the same manner as you 
slide forward on the level. As the hill steepens you 
will gradually reach a point where the skis begin to 
slip backwards. You can, however, advance at a 
steeper gradient than would at first appear possible. 
Don't try to slide your skis forwards, but raise their 
points a few inches and bring the skis firmly down 
with a gentle stamp. Lean back slightly and hold 
your body as nearly at right angles to the slope as 
possible. If you lean forward, your skis will slip away 
from you. You should feel that the pressure of the 
toe-straps is more obvious than on the level. The 
secret of steep climbing is to advance with a slight but 
firm stamping movement at each step, but usually 
it is much better to choose a gradient which you 
can climb without lifting the ski. It is much less 
tiring to slide the skis than to lift them. Confidence 
is the most important factor in success. Once you 
have got the feel of the thing and cease to believe 
that your skis are slipping, the rest is easy. Don't, 
however, try a steeper gradient than you can com- 
fortably manage. Beginners waste valuable time 
by taking a hill steeper than their skis will allow. 

Zigzagging. — Obviously, if you do not climb a hill 
straight you will sooner or later have to turn round 
and reverse your direction. Strike a line that will 



UPHILL AND STRAIGHT RUNNING 39 

involve as few kick turns as possible, for they waste 
valuable time. While climbing keep a stick in each 
hand. To put both sticks together is only advisable 
on the steepest slopes of hard snow. When, however, 
they are used together, they should be held towards 
the hill. Never alter the gradient at which you are 
climbing in order to take a short cut across a gully by 
running down into it and climbing the opposite side. 
Experienced ski-runners rarely change the gradient 
of ascent, and an apparently long detour at a uniform 
angle is always shorter than a descent followed by a 
steep if short climb. 

Herring-boning. — Short steep bits may be tackled 
by a method known as herring-boning. Face the hill 
and plant the skis outwards, roughly, at right angles 
to each other. Climb the slope straight up, lifting 
the skis forward and placing them on their inner edges. 
The angle between the skis should remain throughout. 

On a steep slope this method is extremely fatiguing, 
but it is tolerably easy on a short stretch of ground 
which is just too steep to take straight. 

Side-stepping. — Hold your skis horizontal and lift 
the top ski sideways uphill, placing it again in a 
horizontal position. Bring the lower ski up beside it. 
Side-stepping is apt to be extremely slow, and a useful 
modification, known as half side-stepping, is to lift 
the upper ski forwards as well as sideways. 

Straight running. — The beginner should practice 
this and all subsequent movements with a stick held 
in each hand, or with no sticks. If he uses a single 
stick he will probably lean on it and employ it as a 
prop. If he once gets into the habit of using a stick 



40 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

he will never become a first-rate ski-runner. Pluck 
is the most important element in straight running. 
Nine out of ten backward falls are simply due to funk- 
ing pure and simple. The beginner will, therefore, 
do well to lean well forward. When he becomes 
more expert and no longer falls out of nervousness, 
he will very rarely have an unexpected backward 
fall, and his balance is then far more likely to be 
upset by a sudden change from fast snow into sticky 
snow, which will throw him on his face. So that the 
advice, ' lean forwards,' though excellent for the be- 
ginner, whose falls are nearly all backward falls due 
to pure nervousness, is subject to modification for 
the expert, who is far more likely to pitch forwards. 

The beginner may draw comfort from the fact that, 
owing to air pressure, his pace will not increase after 
the first few seconds. It is while he is actually gather- 
ing way that the balance is most difficult. Thirty 
miles an hour is about as fast as any one is likely 
to go, except on very steep hills and after a big 
jump. 

Starting a run. — If you are at the top of a hill, you 
just take a few forward steps and slide over the edge. 
To start a run on steep ground is not so simple. A 
favourite but clumsy method is to prop yourself up 
with two sticks, point your skis downhill, shove off 
with your sticks and start running. A much neater 
method, for which I think Caulfeild is responsible, is 
the following. Move the skis round so that they point 
as far downhill as possible without actually slipping. 
Then, if the hill is on your right-hand side, throw your 
weight on to your left ski, lifting round the right ski 



UPHILL AND STRAIGHT RUNNING 41 

until it faces straight downhill, its tip being just in 
front of and below the tip of the other ski. Now 
throw all your weight on the right foot and lean well 
forward downhill. The right ski will begin to slide, 
and the left ski, if left to itself, will fall into its natural 
position for straight running. 

Straight running, normal position. — Hold the skis 
together and advance one foot about twelve to 
eighteen inches in front of the other. Hold your 
knees together, keeping the body as erect as possible, 
and try to hold yourself loosely and avoid stiffness, 
more especially at the knees. 

It is important to keep the skis together in soft snow 
or in soft crust. 

Single-track position is steadier than the broad- 
track position as this lengthens the base of support. 

You are very unlikely to fall sideways in ordinary 
powder snow, but a sudden change of gradient is 
liable to throw you forwards or backwards, as the case 
may be. The closer you keep your skis together 
and the more elastic you keep your knees the greater 
is your power to resist a sudden shock in a fore and 
aft direction. On the other hand, if the snow is hard, 
the single-track position is not sound. On hard snow 
you should keep your skis two or three inches apart, 
but you should still try to keep one ski ahead of the 
other and to keep your knees bent. In single-track 
position it is a good plan to lock your knees, putting 
the knee of one leg into the knee-pit of the other. 
Many good runners use the single-track position even 
when traversing a steep slope. Personally, for 
traversing a steep slope, I find it better to keep my 



42 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

skis a little apart. In straight running you would 
have to adapt the position of your body to the 
changes of gradient. You should crouch down if 
you are crossing a mound, and straighten up as your 
skis run into a dip. Your body should always be at 
right-angles to the slope, so that the steeper the slope 
the more it is necessary to tilt the body forward. 

The most difficult kind of gradient to stand on is 
a sudden up-rise following a fast and steep descent, 
such as a cup-shaped hollow at the bottom of a steep 
slope. You are very liable to be thrown violently 
on to your face as the skis are checked by the sudden 
up-rise. The Telemark position is perhaps the safest 
for such emergencies. If you are not running in 
Telemark position you should get your weight on to 
the back leg and try to lift your front ski by the toe- 
straps. This will help your leading ski to run up 
a slope without burying the point of the ski in the 
snow. If you are crouching low it is important to 
crouch from the knees, and not from the hips. Many 
people think that they are crouching when they are 
only bending forward from their waist, an awkward 
and clumsy position. No matter how low you crouch, 
the body should always be upright from the waist to the 
top of your head f and the lowering should be done by 
bending the knees and not by bending forward from 
the waist. 

The Telemark position, — On steep slopes and 
on alighting from a jump you should run in the 
Telemark position. Your centre of gravity is much 
lower in the Telemark, so that you are much 
less likely to be upset by sudden changes of gradi- 



UPHILL AND STRAIGHT RUNNING 43 

ent. Slide the back ski backwards until its point 
is about level with the ankle of the other leg. 
Throw the weight on to the front foot and bend 
the knee of the front leg almost to a right angle. 
The front leg from the knee downwards should be at 
right-angles to the ski. It is absolutely vital on the 
Telemark position to hold the single-track. If the 
back ski diverges from the single-track, especially if 
the snow is slightly crusted, very nasty and extremely 
dangerous falls are likely to result. In order to hold 
the single-track both knees should be slightly turned 
inwards. The up-turn of the back ski should be 
touching the ankle of the leading leg. If you are 
using a spring binding you will find the Telemark 
position much more difficult to hold than with a 
rigid binding, as the back foot comes forward much 
too easily, so that it is practically resting on the toes 
instead of, as in the case of rigid bindings, on the 
ball of the foot. If the gradient changes suddenly 
or runs out into the level you should thrust forward 
the front ski ; your back knee will almost certainly 
bump on to the ski, though you will recover the 
normal position in a few seconds. With a spring 
binding your back knee is liable to be jerked into the 
snow, and if the snow is at all sticky or crusty a very 
nasty jar results. If the pace becomes alarming your 
tendency will be to let the weight fall back on the 
back leg and to bring the back leg forward. In this 
case you will collapse on*to the back leg. To guard 
against this, as the pace increases, straighten the 
back leg, and keep well forward over the front leg. 
Above all see that the front knee is well forward. 



44 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

While running in Telemark position, you should not 
be able to see the instep of your leading foot, for it 
should be hidden by the knee. 

Many Swiss and Norwegian runners criticize the 
Telemark position. Naturally, if one has a perfect 
balance it is not necessary to fall into the Telemark 
position. At the same time, owing to the lowness of 
the centre of gravity, the Telemark position is in- 
variably valuable on uneven ground when travelling 
at a high speed. It is dangerous and useless on 
really hard snow, as it is very difficult to control the 
back ski properly and to keep it in line, but in soft 
crust or powder snow it is most useful. You should 
of course avoid the common fault of running in 
Telemark position unless the slope really requires 
it. Whenever possible run upright. The Telemark 
position is tiring to hold for a long time and should 
only be used on difficult country. At the same time, 
though it is a bad plan to run habitually in the Tele- 
mark position, it is often most useful to fall into the 
Telemark for a few yards. You can run down a 
slope in a normal position and fall into the Telemark 
position if the outrun is very sudden. Personally, 
if I am running from a downhill slope into a hollow 
with a sharp rise on the other side I always fall into 
the Telemark position. 

Crouching position. — The alternative to the Tele- 
mark, which is less tiring to hold, is the crouching 
position. Hold the skis in much the same position 
as in the normal position, but instead of keeping them 
absolutely together they should be about five or six 
inches apart. You should then crouch low down. 



UPHILL AND STRAIGHT RUNNING 45 

Plenty of runners think they are crouching extremely 
low when, as a matter of fact, they are doing nothing 
of the kind. You should crouch so low that if you 
crouch any further you would sit down backwards on 
your skis. You should be able to touch the snow 
with your hands. The crouching position is useful 
for fast running on hard and rather tricky snow when 
the Telemark position is not advisable. This extreme 
crouch is ugly, and should be avoided if possible. 

Falls. — When you fall you will, as often as not, be 
thrown with your head lower down the hill than your 
skis. You should then lift your skis round until they 
are below you. Place them horizontal to the slope, 
hold your sticks horizontally on your uphill side, and 
get up. 



CHAPTER IV 
HOW TO SKI 

THE SKI-ING SWINGS 

THE ideal ski-ing track is a straight line which 
coincides with the fall of the slope. For 
obvious reasons this ideal is often impossible of 
attainment, and even the best runners will often have 
to turn and swing, both in order to avoid obstacles 
and also in order to control their speed. 

It must, however, be understood that ski-ing 
swings, unlike skating turns, are not an end in them- 
selves. The best method of making a ski-ing swing 
happens incidentally to be the most graceful ; for 
a graceful movement, on skis or on skates or on any- 
thing else, owes its grace to the absence of unneces- 
sary effort. A ski-ing swing should be as fast as 
possible, as safe as possible, as accurate as possible, 
and as effortless as possible. Any ski-ing swing 
which conforms to these requirements is a good swing. 
The ski-ing swings are utilitarian, and only second- 
arily aesthetic. It is because the heavy use of the 
stick to help out a swing must involve needless 
effort that the use of the stick is to be discouraged. 

The beginner should realize the difference between 
an uphill swing and a downhill swing. 

If you are running across a hill with the slope on 

46 



HOW TO SKI 47 

your left and you wish to stop, you can stop by means 
of an uphill swing. There are various methods of 
making an uphill swing. If executed on the side of 
a hill they are all alike in one respect. The swing 
brings the ski-runner to a stop ; the skis, which were 
running at an angle across the slope, begin to turn 
uphill, and when the turn is completed the skis are 
either horizontal — or more usually facing uphill. 

A downhill turn or swing is used to join two 
tacks to one another. If a hill is too steep, or covered 
with too many obstacles to take straight, it is best 
tackled by means of a series of curves. These curves 
join two tacks to each other. Before making a 
downhill swing to the right the ski-runner will be 
travelling with the hill on his right. After making 
the downhill turn to the right, he will be travelling 
with the hill on his left. ' Downhill turns ' are often 
described as 'S' turns, because a series of downhill 
turns resembles a series of continuous ' S's.' In a 
downhill turn the skis, instead of beginning to turn 
up to the hill, turn downwards until they are facing 
downhill and then only begin to turn uphill. If you 
are running downhill with the hill to your right and 
your skis begin to turn to your right you will make 
an uphill turn ; if to the left you will make a down- 
hill turn. 

A turn on the level which brings you to a sudden 
stop is also called an uphill turn. The expression 
' Stop turn ' might be more accurate. In fact, it is 
in some ways preferable to use the term ' linked 
turns ' instead of ' downhill turns ' and ' stop turns ' 
instead of uphill turns. 



48 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

SHORT TURNS AND LONG TURNS 

A short turn is a turn in which the radius of the 
curve is short ; a long turn is a turn in which the 
radius of the curve is long. This sounds obvious, 
but some people think that a ' long turn ' is a turn 
in which a long interval has elapsed since the last 

turn. 

The accompanying diagram (Fig. 2) represents 
various turns on the same hill side. The arrow 




FIG. 2 



indicates the direction of the slope. ABCDE is a 
series of short, downhill turns. The radius of the 
curve in each case is comparatively short, so that 
the turn is abrupt. 

FGHJK represents two long tacks FG and GH, 
joined by a short, downhill turn at G, and two more 
long tacks HJ and JK, joined by a short turn at J. 

LMNO represents a series of linked or downhill 
long turns, the radius of the curve being much longer 
in comparison with the turns in ABCDE. XYZ 
represents an uphill swing to rest on the side of 
thejslope. 



HOW TO SKI 49 

Many beginners are quite content if they can make 
any kind of turn, short or long. Now straight 
running is the ideal and turns a regrettable necessity. 
The shorter the turn, the more speed is taken off ; 
the longer the turn, the quicker the ski-runner will 
get downhill. 

You should therefore try (i) to make as few turns 
as possible, (2) to make these turns as ' long ' as 
possible. At the same time it is essential to be able 
to make short and abrupt turns. 

Naturally, a ' long ' turn is much more difficult 
than a short turn, as the speed is much higher through- 
out. 

The three principal ski-ing turns, or swings, are 
the stemming turn, the christiania swing and the 

TELEMARK SWING. 

Each of these three turns or swings can be done 
either uphill or downhill, i.e. either to stop suddenly 
or to link two tacks. Each of these three turns or 
swings can be executed either as a long or as a short 
turn. 

Obviously a stop turn (or uphill turn) can be done 
either long or short. It is easier to make a long stop 
turn than a short stop turn, and as the object of a 
stop turn is usually to stop at once, a short turn is 
preferable. In the case of linking two tacks, i.e. 
downhill turns, the object is not so much to stop, but 
to dodge obstacles or to take off speed where straight 
running is impossible. But as you will naturally 
wish not to take off more speed than you need for 
downhill or linked turns, long turns are usually pre- 
ferable. 

D 



50 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

In a wood, however, the ability to make short, 
abrupt turns is invaluable. 

The ski-runner must therefore learn to make long 
and short turns. The method in both cases is much 
the same. 

EDGING THE SKIS 

The skis have frequently to be edged ; they should 
usually be edged so that the line of the leg from the 
knee to the foot is at right angles to the blade of the 





FIG. 3. — EDGING THE SKI 

ski as in Fig. 3 A, and not as in B, which represents 
an awkward and strained position of the leg. 

It is often necessary to side-slip on skis down the 
slope. In order to side-slip it is necessary to hold the 
skis nearly flat against the slope ; if, however, they 
are held quite flat any slight projection such as a hard 
lump of snow will be felt and may upset the balance. 

In most swings and turn^ the skis are held in the 
' normal edged position ' (Fig. 3 A) in which the leg 
is at right angles to the blade of the ski. 

INSIDE EDGE AND OUTSIDE EDGE 

Inside and outside edge on skis are much the same 
as on skates. If a skater stops suddenly by means 



HOW TO SKI 51 

of a two-foot turn to the right, his right skate will be 
on its outside and his left skate on its inside edge. 
Exactly the same is the case with a sudden stop 
Christiania swing to the right, which in many ways 
resembles the ordinary stop turn on skates. The 
inside or right ski will be on its outside edge at the 
end of the turn and the outside ski on its inside edge. 
In Fig. 3 A the ski is on its inside edge. If you are 
traversing a slope with the hill on your right, and if 
you lean into the slope your right ski will be on its 
outside, your left ski on its inside edge. 

FUNDAMENTAL THEORY OF ALL STEERED SWINGS 

The theory of a steered ski-ing turn is so simple 
that it is really remarkable that so many writers 
have entirely failed to discover it. Until Caulfeild 
wrote his book, no ski-ing writer had really grasped 
the obvious fact that skis turn much as a boat turns. 





Cut out two pieces of cardboard in the shape of 
skis. Place them in the Telemark position (Fig. 4 A) ; 
the Stemming position (Fig. 4 B) ; the ' open Chris- 
tiania ' position (Fig. 4 C) ; join the pieces of cardboard 
with a cross piece to keep them in place and fix two 



52 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

little wheels (a pair of buttons do admirably) into 
the cardboard skis. Now put your cardboard skis 
on any inclined slope, such as a tilted table, and they 
will describe respectively perfect Telemarks, Chris- 
tianias and Stemming turns. 

I spent an amusing hour watching cardboard skis 
cut out by Caulfeild describing far more accurate 
swings than I have ever accomplished. 

It is perfectly obvious that the cardboard skis 
placed at a certain angle and kept there by means 
of another piece of cardboard fixed across them 
cannot run straight down a slope. They must begin 
to turn. Two parallel skis will run straight down 
a slope ; if they are running across a slope and if 
there is another lateral friction to prevent them side- 
slipping they will continue to run across the slope 
in a straight line. But if they are placed at a certain 
angle they must begin to turn. 

That, in brief, is the basic principle of all steered 
turns. You may, as Caulfeild suggests, regard one 
ski as the boat and the other as the rudder. The 
steering effect is produced by the relative position 
of the two skis. If the two skis are absolutely 
parallel there is no steering effect : if they are held 
at a certain angle, the steering effect will vary with 
the size of the angle. 

There is another way of making the skis turn which 
does not depend on steering effort. Two skis which 
are parallel may be made to turn through a right 
angle — or even more — while remaining absolutely 
parallel. This can be done by a jerk or by a jump. 
If, however, no jerk or jump is employed the skis 



HOW TO SKI 53 

must be separated, and must be held either at a 
divergent or a convergent angle to produce steering 
effect. 

Once this fact is thoroughly grasped, the beginner 
will have made a great stride towards mastering the 
turns. 

He will have no excuse for trying to start a turn 
by leaning the way he intends to go. 

If he was steering a boat and found it necessary 
to stop suddenly in order to avoid colliding with 
another boat he would pull the rudder round rapidly ; 
but he would not expect to get much steering effect 
by throwing his weight on one side of the boat, or 
by urging the crew to lean heavily over to the side 
towards which he wished to turn. He would get his 
steering effect out of the rudder. 

Similarly wdth a stop Christiania. The steering 
effect will be produced by increasing the angle be- 
tween the skis — not by leaning inwards. 

At the end of a very fast turn it may be necessary 
to lean inwards in order to avoid being thrown out- 
wards. One's normal tendency to lean inwards is, 
however, more than sufficient — save in very sticky 
snow — to prevent one being thrown outwards, so 
that the beginner at least need not bother con- 
sciously to lean in. 

In any case this inward lean must never occur 

BEFORE THE SWING IS COMPLETED. You should 

never lean in to start a turn. 

To lean in with a view to starting a swing is fatal. 
The ordinary directions for starting a Christiania — i.e. 
to lean inwards, are absolutely wrong. 



54 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

There are certain analogies between Ski-ing and 
Golf. In Golf it is essential to keep your eye on the 
ball, which is only another way of saying that it is 
essential to keep your head still. You can take your 
eye off the ball when the stroke is completed, but not 
before. The object of keeping your eye on the ball 
is to prevent your head and body coming round 
before the ball is struck. In most ski-ing swings, 
it is for similar reasons important to keep the head 
still and the eye on some fixed point on one of your 
skis. In every steered ski-ing turn or swing it is of 
vital importance not to try to force the swing by 
leaning inwards, or by turning the body. The body 
turns as the skis turn : if it turns quicker than the 
skis the turn will be a failure. Imagine a line 
connecting your two shoulders. This line will be at 
right angles to your skis when you are running 
straight. In other words, you will be standing 
square to your skis. In the Telemark turn, to take 
one example, the body should remain absolutely 
square with the leading ski throughout the turn. It 
should turn with the ski. 

The average beginner brings his right shoulder 
round when turning to the left so that a line drawn 
from shoulder to shoulder is almost in line with the 
ski, instead of being at right angles to it. 

In order to prove that it is not necessary to turn 
your body in the direction you wish to turn when 
making a swing, I have done a downhill Telemark to 
the left with my body twisted right round to the 
right and my eyes looking backwards over my right 
shoulder — the complete reverse of the normal position. 



HOW TO SKI 55 

The real truth being that so long as the body remains 
in one fixed position and so long as the skis are held 
at the right angle and weighted in the right way, 
some sort of a turn is bound to follow. 

The analogy with golf lies in the fact that in ski-ing 
as in golf it is an excellent thing to keep your eye on 
some fixed point. In the stemming turn I advise 
the beginner to keep his eye on the point of the outer 
ski ; in the Christiania to the left on his left foot ; in 
the Telemark to the left on the point of the left ski. 

The object of keeping the eye on a fixed point is 
twofold. In the first place, it prevents the beginner 
looking down the slope. If he keeps his eye on some 
fixed point, he is far less likely to notice the terrifying 
steepness of the slope. In the second place, keeping 
the eye on some fixed point — or rather fixed in rela- 
tion to his own body — not, of course, fixed in relation 
to the slope for the skis are moving, prevents him 
turning his head and his shoulders. 

The beginner should make up his mind — whatever 
steered swing he is attempting — that the skis are 
going to do the job if he gives them a chance. Let 
him remember the cardboard skis which perform 
perfect swings if left to themselves. Let him try to 
imagine that his own two legs are simply a cross board 
holding the skis together at a certain angle. 

Curiously enough a great deal of this applies even 
to jerked swings, and even to a complete jump round. 
In the easiest form of jerked Christiania the legs and 
skis turn before the shoulders turn, and the head 
does not turn before the swing is completed. Even 
in the jump round it is fatal to turn the body before 



56 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

the skis have turned or to lean in too much. It may 
be necessary to lean in very much at the end of the 
jump round, but the inward lean should never be 

EMPLOYED TO START A TURN. 

In all downhill turns, i.e. turns which link one 
tack to another, there is a critical moment just as 
the skis are pointing downhill. It is this moment 
which upsets the beginner. He feels that if he does 
not do something drastic his skis will run away and 
dash down the slope. And so, of course, he does the 
one thing which he should not do. 

Instead of leaning boldly forwards and outwards 
so as to get his weight well forward on to the ski 
which is going to act as a rudder and bring him round, 
he leans backwards and he leans inwards, and of 
course he falls. 

It is no use trying to force a turn. Forcing a turn 
is equivalent to ' pressing ' at golf. The parallel may 
be completed in that a first-class golfer can allow 
himself to press a little, whereas the beginner is 
always told not to try to hit the ball but to let the 
swing of his body do the work. Similarly at ski-ing, 
the beginner should allow the steering effect of his 
ski to carry through the turn ; the expert at golf 
can ' press ' without disaster, and the expert ski- 
runner can ' press/ or, in other words, force a rapid 
swing by combining the steering effect of his ski 
with a great deal of body jerk or swing ; but if the 
beginner tries to jerk a swing he will fail. He must 
confine himself to pure steered turns and swings 
until he has completely mastered them. 

Before describing the turns in detail, let me sum- 



HOW TO SKI 57 

marize a few general directions which apply to all 
steered swings and turns. The beginner might do 
worse than copy these out, and even memorize them, 
so that he can murmur them gently to himself as he 
attempts a turn. 



GENERAL DIRECTIONS FOR ALL STEERED TURNS 

I. Don't lean the way you want to go to start 
the turn. 

II. Don't lean inwards except at the very end of 
the turn, and even then it is better not to lean in 
consciously. The unconscious inward lean will be 
quite enough except in the case of very fast swings 
on sticky or crusted snow. 

III. ' Keep your eye on the ball.' The exact 
point on which to focus your eye will vary with the 
different turns. 

IV. Put your skis in the proper position and hold 
them at the proper angle till the turn is completed. 
Don't let them run together before the turn is com- 
pleted. 

V. Don't let your weight come back on to the back 
ski before the turn is completed. 

VI. In downhill or linked turns or swings, re- 
member that the only hope of success is to lean boldly 
forward and down the slope as the skis begin to come 
round. 

VII. Try to imagine that you are turning on the 
level. This pleasant fallacy is encouraged by keeping 
your eye on some definite point. 

VIII. Don't try to force the turn. 



58 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

IX. Give your skis a chance. They are only too 
anxious to come round if you don't interfere with 
them. If you put them at the proper angle, they 
must come round unless you thwart them. 

Note. — In every case I assume the hill to be on 
your left, so that an uphill turn will be a turn 
to the left and a downhill turn a turn to the 
right. For an uphill turn to the right or a 
downhill turn to the left substitute ' left ' for 
' right ' in the following pages. Needless to 
say, the beginner must not be content until he 
can make every turn and swing both to left 
and to right. I only describe the turns one 
way to save space. 

THE STEMMING TURN 

The stemming turn is perhaps the most generally 
useful of all ski-ing turns, especially for ski-runners 
who visit the High Alps where the snow is seldom 
deep and powdery. The stemming turn is closely 
allied to the Christiania swing, and though expert 
runners will use the Christiania far more than the 
stemming turn both for uphill and downhill turns, 
yet an absolute mastery of the various forms of 
stemming turns is a necessary foundation for cross- 
country ski-ing. 

The stemming turn is easiest on hard snow which 
is not too slippery to check undue side-slip. It 
should be practised on the beaten snow of a practice 
ground. It is difficult in soft snow and almost 



HOW TO SKI 59 

impossible in deep, heavy snow or on soft breakable 
crust. 

Stemming. — Find some fairly gradual slope on the 
practice ground. Start with your skis horizontal and 
the hill on your left. Run across the slope at a gentle 
angle and as soon as you are under way begin to stem 
with the lower ski. 

In order to stem, push out the heel of your lower 
foot so that the skis, instead of being parallel, form an 




3 
FIG. 5.— AN UPHILL STEMMING TURN 

angle. The upper ski should continue to point in 
the direction in which you were running before start- 
ing to stem ; the lower ski should be nearly horizontal. 
The tip of the lower ski should be close to, but an 
inch or two in front of, the tip of the upper ski. You 
are now in the stemming position. 

In order to stem or to reduce your speed, straighten 
the lower leg and weight the heel of the lower foot. 

Keep your eye on the point of the upper ski. 

The more you weight the lower leg and the more 
you straighten the lower leg, the greater will be the 
braking effect of the lower ski. If this position is 
held the lower ski will begin to turn uphill ; both 



60 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

skis will come to a stop and you will have accomplished 
a slow uphill stemming turn to the left. 

As a rule stemming is used — not to stop — but 
merely to reduce speed. As your skis begin to slow 
down you can once again resume your normal speed 
by reducing the weight on the lower ski and weighting 
the upper ski which should continue to point down 
the slope in the same direction as it was pointing 
before you started the turn. 

By weighting the upper ski you increase your 
speed. By weighting the lower ski you decrease 
your speed. It is quite easy to run along the slope 
alternately weighting the upper and the lower ski, 
and thereby alternately increasing and decreasing 
your speed. 

The beginner usually shows great reluctance to 
throw enough weight on to the stemming ski. On 
steep slopes this can only be done by leaning boldly 
outward from the slope. If you try to hug the slope 
and push out the stemming ski with a nervous, 
pawky action while keeping your weight on the top 
ski, the only result will be that your top ski will go 
faster than ever. 

Just as mountaineers who cross a steep ice-slope 
always lean well out from their steps, and do not hug 
the slope, so in stemming across a steep slope your 
body must be at least vertical, if not slightly leaning 
out from the slope. On very steep slopes you will 
have to bend the upper leg very considerably in 
order to keep the stemming ski horizontal : in fact, 
on very steep slopes you may have to lift the heel 
of the upper foot and almost sit on the upper ski 




HALFWAY THROUGH A STEMMING TURN 



HOW TO SKI 61 

while keeping as much weight as possible on to the 
stemming ski. 

This is rather uncomfortable, and on such slopes 
there are better ways of controlling the speed, which 
will be described later : e.g. side-slipping or the 
Christiania. 

A most important point in stemming is to keep the 
points of the skis close to each other, the lower ski 
slightly ahead of the upper ski, as in all swings and 
turns the skis will tend to run together if you do not 
resolutely control this tendency. 

See ' GENERAL DIRECTIONS ' on pp. 57-58. 

You will find it easier to stop by stemming on a 
slope than on the level : on a slope the stemming 
action is assisted by the gradient for, in pushing out 
the heel of the lower ski and weighting it, you drive 
the back part of the lower ski downhill. On the level 
you are merely driving it sideways. 

To stop quickly by a pure stem on the level is very 
difficult and clumsy. It is also difficult — if not im- 
possible — to stop on a slope by stemming when 
travelling at a high speed. 

Stemming is mainly useful for controlling your 
speed when travelling at a moderate pace on steepish 
slopes. The expert does not often use it, but stem- 
ing must thoroughly be mastered, as it is the key to 
other turns and swings. 

Incidentally, it is of very great value when ski-ing 
on a rope, being in fact the only safe method whereby 
the second man on the rope can prevent himself over- 
running the leader. 



62 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 



SNOW-PLOUGHING OR DOUBLE STEMMING 

Stemming is useful when you are running across 
a hill ; snow-ploughing or double stemming is useful 
where you have a limited space, such as a narrow 
stretch of ground between trees. 

The skis are placed in a V-shaped position, with the 
vertex of the ' V ' pointing downhill. The ski- 
runner faces directly downhill, so that his skis are in 
a position which an engineer would describe as 
' stable equilibrium/ 

Push your legs wide apart, and keep your knees 
rigidly unbent. You should thrust out the heels of 
both your feet and both skis should be on their inner 
edges, with the weight distributed equally on both 
skis. The tips of the skis should nearly but not 
quite touch each other, and the angle between the 
skis should be as wide as possible. Lean well for- 
ward. The more you edge your skis and the wider 
the angle between the skis, the greater will be the 
braking or stemming power. 

Snow-ploughing is mainly useful on steep roads 
and on narrow stretches of snow. It is difficult in 
deep soft snow, though easy enough in shallow soft 
snow or on hard snow. It is, of course, quite im- 
possible to assume the snow-plough position when 
running fast. 

Snow-ploughing is seldom used by an expert, but 
it is a most important manoeuvre to master, as it is 
the key to the stemming turn. You should practise it 
until you can regulate your speed to a nicety on 



HOW TO SKI 63 

fairly steep slopes by alternately increasing and de- 
creasing the angle between the skis. 

Failure to hold the snow-plough position is usually 
due to a failure to keep the knees rigid ; the moment 
you relax your knees the skis tend to run together. 
Other common faults are letting the ski points cross 
in front, failing to lean forward and letting one ski 
lead. Both skis should be on a level with their ski 
points close together. 

DOWNHILL STEMMING TURN 

The best way to learn the downhill stemming turn 
is to master the snow-plough. Then run down a 
moderate hill in the snow-plough position and 
suddenly throw most of your weight on to the right 
ski. You will immediately begin to turn slowly to 
the left ; the right ski will gradually begin to turn 
uphill and as it does so the left ski can be brought 
round parallel. 

It is rather harder to start a downhill stemming 
turn from a traverse, but as this is the principal 
use of stemming, and, perhaps, the most generally 
useful ski-ing turn, it must, of course, be thoroughly 
mastered. 

Find some fairly gentle slope. The practice ground 
is best, as the snow is presumably beaten down. Run 
across this slope with the hill on your left in the 
normal position for traversing, with both skis to- 
gether. Now thrust out the heel of your top foot 
until the skis make a fairly wide ■ V. J The points of 
the skis should be close together but not quite touch- 



64 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

ing. The lower ski will be in line with its original 
direction. In fact the position is much the same as 
for ordinary stemming — see above— excepting that 
you are stemming with the top ski instead of the 
bottom ski. 

Get most of your weight on to the top ski, and 
thrust out the heel of your left (top) leg. The top 
left ski should be on its inside edge ; the lower ski 
flat or slightly on its inside edge. 

The effect of stemming with the left ski will be 
that your left ski will begin to turn downhill. 

You will assume a position closely resembling the 
normal snow-plough position, with the vertex of the 
' V ' almost pointing downhill but with the point of 
the right ski slightly leading. It is vitally important 
to keep your legs stiff and your knees unbent, and to lean 
boldly forward as your skis come round. When you 
are facing downhill throw all your weight on to the 
heel of the left ski, lean boldly forward and outwards, 
and your left ski will come sharply round. As it 
does so — but not before — the right ski must be made 
to follow round and to close up, relaxing the knees 
and bringing the skis parallel once again. This 
should not be done till the turn is nearly com- 
pleted. 

Beginners spoil their turns by letting their knees 
bend — the most common fault — before the turn is 
completed. This relaxes the stemming position, so 
that the skis close up too soon and tend to run straight 
down the slope. Also they do not weight the outer 
ski sufficiently, and they hang back as the skis begin 
to come round instead of leaning boldly forward. 



HOW TO SKI 65 

Practise this till you can make a downhill stemming 
turn to right and to left. 

See also ' general directions/ pp. 57-58. 

The great difficulty in the ordinary stemming turn 
is the change of edge that the inside ski must ac- 
complish. If you are traversing with the hill on 




7 

FIG. 6.— DOWNHILL STEMMING TURN 

your left, your left ski is on its outside, the right 
ski on its inside edge. When the downhill stem- 
ming turn is completed the hill will be on your 
right, your right ski will be on its outside, and your, 
left ski on its inside edge. In other words, both 
skis will have changed edges. Now there is no 
difficulty about the left ski, for you put it on its 
inside edge to start the turn, but the right ski has to 



66 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

make this change of edge from inside to outside at 
the most critical part of the turn, just before the 
turn is completed. The change of edge has to be 
made at exactly the right moment, as otherwise the 
ski is very likely to catch on its edge and refuse to 
come round at all. 

There is a simple method of avoiding this difficulty, 
which consists in getting rid of the inside ski, or— 
as Caulfeild puts it — making this change of edge in 
the air. This manoeuvre is known by the horrid 
name of ' Stemmiania ' which is really a misnomer, 
for the ' Stemmiania ' can only mean a mixture of 
stemming turn and Christiania — better known as the 
' Closed Christiania/ described in its proper place. 
I prefer to use the more logical term ' Lifted Stem.' 

The ' lifted stem,' which has really superseded the 
pure stemming turn among good runners, is best 
learned — like the stemming turn — by way of the 
snow-plough position. 

Run downhill in the snow-plough position. Lean 
well forward, and see that your legs are rigid and the 
knees unbent. Now throw all your weight on to 
the right heel. This should be done with a steady 
thrust — not a timid jerky push. As you give this 
thrust, lift the left ski off the ground. The thrust 
on the right heel will drive the back part of the ski 
down the slope, all the more quickly because the 
left ski does not check the movement since it is clear 
of the snow. When the right ski is horizontal, or 
nearly horizontal, the left ski can be brought smartly 
down, parallel with the right ski. 

When you can stop in this way from a snow-plough 



HOW TO SKI 67 

position, either to left and right, you can attempt the 
same manoeuvre from a traverse ; in other words, you 
can attempt a downhill lifted stem — a most invalu- 
able accomplishment. 

Run across a moderate slope (hill on your left) bend- 
ing the left ankle inwards. Push the heel of your left 
ski outwards until you have assumed a pronounced 
stemming position. The point of the left ski should 
be close to the point of the right ski, but slightly ahead 
of it. The right ski should be flat, if anything slightly 
on its inner edge but only very slightly. As the skis 
begin to turn downhill, push the heels of your feet 
even wider apart. Throw your weight forwards and 
outwards on the outer ski, push off from the inner 
ski, and throw your weight boldly on to the left heel 
at the moment when you are facing downhill. As 
you do this, lift the right ski clear of the snow and 
bring it round quickly, putting it down parallel with 
the left ski, which by then should be horizontal or 
nearly so. This is a double movement, but you should 
not be content until you can make the turn really 
fast, so that the double movement of throwing the 
weight on to the outer ski and lifting the inner ski 
is practically simultaneous. 

The lifted stem can also be used as a very effective 
method of making a stop turn or uphill turn. It is 
one of the best methods of stopping quickly on the 
level. Everything depends on thrusting out boldly 
from the left leg and lifting the left leg smartly and 
bringing it down quickly parallel with the right ski. 



68 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 



THE CHRISTIANIA 

Caulfeild defines a Christiania as any swing 'in 
which the outer ski does not lead and the skis are not 
held convergently/ i.e. the skis may be either parallel 
or divergent, and either held level or with the inner 
leading. 

There is, however, a very useful form of the Chris- 
tiania in which the skis are held convergently ; the 
swing being started by an embryo stem, so that the 
above definition hardly holds water. To quote 
Kipling with due alteration : 

' There are nine and ninety things 
Which are nicknamed Christi swings 
And every single one of them is right/ 

If I had to volunteer a definition, I should define a 
Christiania as any swing in which the skis were 
either parallel or in which the angle between the skis 
was very slight, and in which the feet were not 
widely separated (as in the Telemark). 

There are really three main types of Christiania, 
the Open Christiania, the Closed Christiania, and the 
Jerked Christiania. There are also numberless com- 
binations and modifications, such as the Jerked Chris- 
tiania, started by a slight stem, or the Open Chris- 
tiania, helped out with a jerk. I propose to describe 
these in turn. 

Side-Slipping. — This useful manoeuvre is really a 
form of Christiania. It should be mastered before 






If 

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2 



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HOW TO SKI 69 

the more difficult types of Christi. are attempted. 
It is a very neat and effective method of controlling 
one's speed on a steep slope, far neater and more 
effective than stemming. 

In order to side-slip, start from rest with your skis 
horizontal and separated by about six inches or a 
foot. Flatten them against the slope, and lean well 
outwards from the hill. If the slope is composed 
of beaten or hard snow — such as is common on the 
practice ground — you will start side-slipping down 
the slope. If you want to check the rate at which 
you are side-slipping, you need only edge your skis 
into the slope. If you want to stop suddenly, give 
a small jump, and edge your skis as you come 
down. It is not necessary to leave the ground ; the 
jumping motion is sufficient. 

The beginner gets nervous as he begins to side- 
slip and tries to arrest himself by leaning in to the 
slope, with the result that his skis slip away from 
under him. The only way to check side-slipping is 
to lean out and edge the skis. With a little practice 
the instinctive dislike to the side-slipping sensation 
can be overcome and you will soon be able to de- 
scend by side-slipping steep, narrow stretches of 
ground where there is not enough space in which 
to turn. This kind of side-slipping is very useful 
indeed, and is, I think, far safer and far steadier and 
far easier than the so-called Telemark stem, a man-, 
oeuvre which seems to me radically unsound. 

So far I have described side-slipping from rest, 
straight down the slope. 

A much more generally useful manoeuvre is to 



70 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

check your speed when you are traversing a steep 
hill at a fairly steep gradient. 

The hill, we will suppose, is on your left. 

In order to check your speed you have only to 
flatten your skis and throw all your weight on to 
the heels of your skis ; this will have the effect of 
making the points of your skis turn uphill. You 
must be very careful to lean outwards as you throw 
your weight on to the heels of your skis, and not 
to lean inwards towards the slope. 

If you want to come to rest suddenly you need 
only weight your heels and edge your skis in to the 
slope, but if you want to combine checking your 
speed with side-slipping you will flatten your skis 
against the slope— not quite flat (see page 69) but 
almost flat. This will start a side-slip. 

If the slope is fairly narrow and there is not much 
room to turn you can run down at a fairly steep angle, 
checking your speed by weighting your heels and 
side-slipping for some distance, after which you can 
again weight your toes and run down another section 
before again side-slipping. 

It is possible to run steep narrow slopes very fast 
by running them in a succession of steep tacks varied 
by side-slipping. 

This kind of side-slipping is really a form of Chris- 
tiania, and if the side-slip is reduced to a minimum 
by edging the skis at once, as soon as you weight the 
heels you will really execute an uphill Christiania. 

As in all the turns the secret of success is to lean 
outwards from the slope, not to attempt to force 
the manoeuvre by leaning inwards, and not to hang 



HOW TO SKI 71 

back. Lean outwards, lean forwards, weight your 
heels, and you will have no difficulty. 



THE OPEN CHRISTIANIA 

The Christiania started by side-slipping and 
weighting the heels is useful on a steep slope, but 
it is useless on the level, for it owes its value to the 
ease with which the heels of the skis can be driven 






FIG. 7.— UPHILL CHRISTIANIA 

downhill (and the points accordingly driven uphill) 
while traversing a steep slope. On the level there 
is no slope to help out the swing. 

The Open Christiania, here described, can be done 
either on the level on or a hillside. 

The hill is on your left. Position, normal for tra- 
versing. Weight equally divided between both skis, 
left ski about a foot in advance. 

To start the swing, bend the left knee, and weight 
the left heel. Most of the weight should be on the 
left foot, but some weight should be on the right foot, 



72 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

for the right ski is to act as the rudder, and the rudder 
can have no effect if it is out of the water, i.e. if the 
rudder ski is completely unweighted (see page 56). 
The right ski, slightly weighted, should then be slid 
back a few inches, and the toe of the right foot 
pushed out until the skis form a divergent angle, an 
' inverse ' stem. Bend both knees and ankles out- 
wards until you feel that you are almost bow-legged. 
The divergent position of the skis will produce steer- 
ing effect ; it is only necessary to hold this position, 
emphasizing the bow-legged position, bending both 
knees outwards, and keeping most — but not all— the 
weight on the front (left ski) for the skis to begin to 
turn uphill to the left. 

When the turn is fairly under way — but not before 
— the skis should be brought smartly together, the 
weight should be distributed equally between the two 
skis and should be on the heels of the two feet, and 
the two skis may now be edged into the slope. 

The difficulty is to keep some weight on the back 
ski to start the turn, but to avoid weighting the back 
ski too much till the turn is all but completed, other- 
wise it is very difficult to hold the proper divergent 
position. 

In order to start the turn the outer ski must be 
flattened against the snow ; this is done auto- 
matically if you bend out your knees — the bow- 
legged position — as described. If the outer ski, in 
addition to being unduly weighted, is also edged, 
instead of flattened, while the turn is started, the 
ski will run apart and a very ugly fall will result. 

Lean forwards ; lean outwards. Keep your eye 



HOW TO SKI 73 

resolutely fixed on your left foot. Keep the left 
leg straight from the knee downwards ; it is a good 
plan to try to hide as much of your foot as possible 
with your knee, so that while keeping your eye re- 
solutely on your left toe, you can, at the same time, 
see your knee and not see your instep. Don't try 
to force the swing ; your skis will bring you round if 
you let them without any body action. Keep your 
right shoulder back and trust to the steering action 
of the ski. Don't be content till you can stop by an 
uphill Christiania to the right as well as to the left. 

See ' GENERAL DIRECTIONS,' pp. 57-58. 

A small point must be mentioned. I have de- 
scribed an uphill swing to the left, started from a 
traverse with the hill on your left. If you start an 
uphill swing from a direct descent — a much more 
difficult matter — both skis will be flat, whereas when 
starting a swing from a traverse the inner ski will be 
on its outside edge — its correct edge for this swing. 
From a direct descent it is necessary to turn the left 
ski on to its outside edge before starting the swing. 
The right ski will be flat, and must be kept flat as the 
skis come round, which can only be done by the bow- 
legged position — both knees and ankles bent out- 
wards — already described. 



THE OPEN CHRISTIANIA I DOWNHILL 

So far I have described an uphill swing to rest from 
a traverse. It is of course possible to make downhill 
or linked Christianias by the same method. 



74 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

The hill is on your left, and you wish to make a 
downhill Christi., so that at the end of your swing the 
hill will be on your right. Slide the left ski a few 
inches to the rear. Turn it outwards so that your 
skis are slightly divergent, an inverse stem. Weight 
the toe of your right foot. A little weight should be 
on the left foot to start the turn, but most of the weight 
should be on the right foot. You will begin to turn 
downhill. Bow your legs, turning your knees and 
ankles outwards, so as to keep the same divergent 
angle throughout, the weight on the toe rather than 
the heel of the right ski. The knee of the right foot 
— as before — should be well bent so that the leg 
from the knee downwards is at right angles to the 
skis. Keep your eye, as before, on the toe of the 
leading ski — in this case the right ski. 

When the turn is half completed, i.e. when you 
are facing downhill, shift the weight from the toe to 
the heel of the right foot. This will tend to drive the 
back of your right ski down, and the toe of your 
right ski uphill. The swing can now be finished as 
an ordinary uphill Christiania to the right. At the 
end of the turn, but not before, the weight can be 
thrown equally on to the heels of both feet ; both 
skis can be edged into the slope and brought smartly 
together. 

Any attempt to bring them together too soon will 
result in the turn stopping half way through and the 
skis running straight downhill. 

On the other hand, if you keep too much weight on 
the outside ski (left) your skis will tend to run apart. 
Many people find it easier to learn the downhill 




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5 



HOW TO SKI 75 

Christiania if they crouch low to start the 
swing. 

The reader will remember that in the case of a 
downhill stemming turn to the right one of the main 
difficulties in the turn was to effect the change of 
edge of the inner (right) ski, whereas the outer (left) 
ski was put on its inside edge to start the turn and 
finished on its inside edge. 

There is a similar difficulty in the case of a down- 
hill Christiania. Where the downhill turn is done to 
the right, the right ski is flattened against the snow, 
or turned a little on its outside edge to start the 
movement and when the turn is completed it ends 
on its outside edge, so that there is no difficulty in 
the edging of the right ski, just as in the stemming 
downhill turn to the right there was no difficulty in 
edging the left ski. But in the case of the downhill 
Christi. to the left the outside or left ski starts flat, 
or slightly on its outside edge, and finishes on its 
inside edge, just as in the stemming turn the inside 
or right ski starts on its inside, and finishes on its out- 
side edge. One of the main difficulties in the open 
downhill Christi. is this change of edge of the outer 
ski, which has to be effected while the turn is in pro- 
gress. If it is not done neatly and at the right 
moment the skis will run apart. If it is done too 
soon the inside ski will not come round. 

On rough, bumpy snow it is difficult to insure 
against the skis running apart, which results in 
nasty falls, so that I, for one, far prefer to make 
downhill Christianias by means of the jerked method 
or the ' Closti/ described below, both of which seem 



76 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

to me safer turns for downhill Christis than the open 
turn. 

At the same time the open swing must be learned ; 
it is specially useful for long, open, fast sweeping 
curves on glacier snow. 

See also ' general directions,' pp. 57-58. 



THE CLOSED CHRISTIANIA 

The open Christi. is started by separating the points 
of the skis, i.e. by divergent stemming. The Closed 
Christiania — or to give it its more usual and handier 
name — the ' Closti ' is started by an embryo stem, 
i.e. by bringing the points of the skis together and 
separating the heels. 

A turn which begins as an ordinary stemming turn 
and which ends as a Christiania is a very useful com- 
pound turn : it is sometimes called a ' Stemmiania ' 
- — a horrible portmanteau word. The ' Stemmiania ' 
is really a ' Closti/ in which the stemming action is 
pronounced. A ' Closti ' starts with an embryo 
stem, but the less pronounced this stemming action 
appears, the quicker and neater will be the swing. 

The best way to learn the * Closti ' is to practise 
ordinary stemming turns, but the moment you have 
stemmed enough to make your skis point downhill 
you should finish with an ordinary uphill Christiania, 
bringing the skis smartly together and weighting the 
heels. This will give you the feeling of ending a 
turn, which begins as a stem, with a Christiania. 

When you can make downhill turns in which the 
Christiania finish is neat and rapid, you can then 




TO 



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HOW TO SKI 77 

begin to think of eliminating most of the original 
stemming. 

This, I think, is best done by means of the lifted 
stem which has been fully described on page 66. 

The lifted stem is a most valuable manoeuvre. 
Though the side-slipping or the open Christiania is 
the best method of making a rapid stop turn (uphill) 
on the side of a slope, the lifted stem is the quickest 
and sharpest method of stopping within a small 
compass on the level, with the exception of the jerked 
Christiania. On certain kinds of snow the lifted 
stem is far and away the best method of stopping 
quickly on the level. 

By the time you can make short, quick and neat 
lifted stems either to stop or to link two tacks (a 
downhill turn) you can begin to practise the ' Closti.' 
In order to transform a ' lifted stem ' into a ' Closti ' 
all that is necessary is to keep your skis on the ground, 
instead of lifting the inside ski. This sounds rather 
paradoxical. The beginner may well exclaim • You 
tell me that the best method of making a stemming 
turn is to get rid of the inside ski by lifting it, and 
now you want me to learn to keep the derned thing 
on the ground after I have spent weary hours in 
learning to lift it.' The explanation for this cap- 
ricious advice is as follows :- — 

The beginner who can make a decent stemming 
turn by the ordinary method will certainly find the 
lifted stem neater and easier. On certain kinds of 
snow the lifted stem is easier than any other kind of 
turn, for the lifted stem is always possible and the 
Closti or Christiania is often very difficult. But one 



78 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

of the main reasons for mastering the lifted stem is 
that it involves a little unconscious swing or jerk 
which is useful in the ' Closti/ and which adds a new 
element differentiating the lifted stem from pure 
steered turns, such as the pure stemming turn or the 
open Christiania. The mere act of lifting the in- 
side ski and throwing all the weight on to the heels 
of the outside ski forces you to give a certain swing 
which helps the movement out. I said nothing about 
this while describing the lifted stem, for the very good 
reason that if the beginner consciously tries to swing 
or jerk he will certainly fall. So too with the ' Closti ' — 
a good fast ' Closti ' cannot be carried through without 
swing and without a certain suspicion of the jerked 
Christiania, but the moment you tell anybody to jerk a 
turn he is sure to make a horrible mess of the business. 

Make certain of your lifted stem so that you can 
make fast turns — uphill or downhill — and to right 
and left, and then try to preserve the motion and feel 
of a lifted stem while skimming the snow with the 
inside ski. In other words, instead of lifting the in- 
side ski, take most of your weight off it, but just 
keep it on the ground. 

If you have got the feel of the lifted stem into your 
bones, you will have no difficulty in keeping the inner 
ski on the ground while preserving the speed and 
movement of a lifted stem. In all ' Clostis ' the 
inside ski though skimming the surface of the snow 
is practically unweighted. The only reason for not 
lifting it is that the turn is smoother, and the slight 
jerkiness and braking effect produced by bringing 
the inside ski back on to the ground is avoided. 



HOW TO SKI 79 



THE JERKED CHRISTIANIA 

There are numberless ways of making a jerked 
Christiania, which resemble each other only in the 
fact that this turn is carried through with the skis 
parallel. Every other turn and swing is started by 
holding the skis at an angle in order to produce the 
needful steering effect. 

The jerked Christiania is not a steered turn ; the 
skis are jerked round and not steered round. 

The easiest way to learn a jerked Christiania is 
first to master the ' Jump turn ' which will be de- 
scribed on pp. 92-94. 

By the time you can make good jump turns, 
either to stop or to join two tacks to each other, you 
will have mastered the groundwork of a jerked Chris- 
tiania. 

In order to make a jerked Christiania you should 
try to jump round with as small a jump as possible. 
All your earliest attempts at jumping round will be 
cumbrous affairs, in which the skis are lifted a con- 
siderable height above the snow. Go on practising 
until you can jump round only just clearing the 
snow. If the slope is steep you will of course have 
to get the heels of your skis clear of the snow if you 
are making a ' downhill ' jump round, but by leaning 
very well forward you can keep the main part of 
your skis close to the snow. 

Eventually you will be able to ' jump round ' with- 
out really jumping at all. In other words, you will 
start the movement with an embryo jump, and the 



80 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

actual jump will be so far suppressed that in reality 
your skis will not leave the snow. The jumping 
movement will take enough weight off the skis to 
help them to come round quickly. In fact, on easy 
snow all that is necessary is to jump from the toes, 
simultaneously thrusting out the heels. 

Unlike steered turns, which can be analysed and 
described in detail and which involve no knack and 
which anybody should be able to do after an hour's 
practice at a slow speed, the jerked Christiania in- 
volves a distinct knack and a good balance. 

It is well worth learning, as it is a very fast and 
very safe turn. 

SUMMARY OF THE CHRISTIANIA SWINGS 

The reader may decide that a swing which is so 
difficult to describe, and which can be done in so 
many ways, must be a very difficult manoeuvre. 
This is not the case. Most runners soon find some 
form of Christiania to suit them. It is as well to 
learn all three forms, but the man in a hurry will have 
no difficulty in mastering the type of Christiania that 
comes most useful to him. Most good runners use 
a swing that is a combination of various styles. 
Captain Evans, a friend of mine, whose open Chris- 
tianias are at least as neat and as fast as those of any 
other English runner, makes his Christianias by a 
method which is in such flat contradiction to ac- 
cepted theories that I would not dare to describe it 
for fear of leading the reader astray, and for myself 
I use a very useful bastard turn which starts as a 



HOW TO SKI 81 

* Closti * and which is carried through by a jerk. 
The ' jerked Closti ' is, in my opinion, the safest, 
fastest and neatest method of making a stop swing 
or a downhill swing that I know. I use it ten times 
for every time I use the Telemark. In anything but 
deep, soft snow or soft, breakable crust it is at least 
as effective as any other swing. 

I strongly advise the beginner to practise his 
swings in the following order. Let him begin with 
the pure stemming turn and then proceed to the 
lifted stem. For stopping on a slope or controlling 
his speed he cannot learn the side-slipping Chris- 
tiania too early. By the time he can make downhill 
lifted stems at a good speed and with considerable 
certainty he should master the ' Closti/ and if he 
likes at the same time to master jumping round, he 
can then begin to work a little jerk into his swings. 
When he can make fast Clostis or jerked Christianias, 
he can then experiment with the Open downhill 
Christianias. 

Of course he will have learned the Telemark long 
before he has mastered all the fine points of the Chris- 
tianias. In fact, the proper order for learning the 
swings is something like this : Pure Stem, Side- 
slipping, Christiania, Telemark, Lifted Stem, Closti, 
Open Christiania, Jump round, Jerked Christiania. 

By the time he can jerk his Christianias with suc- 
cess nine times out of ten he is by way of being a fair 
performer. 



82 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 



THE TELEMARK SWING 

Stemming and Christianias are easy on hard snow, 
or on hard snow covered by a shallow layer of soft 
snow. They are difficult in deep, soft snow, and im- 
possible on breakable crust. Fortunately a Telemark 
can usually be used if the other swings are out of the 
question. 

To learn the Telemark, find some northern slope 
where the snow is powdery and not too shallow. The 
beaten snow of the practice ground is excellent for 
Christianias, but useless for Telemarks. 



TELEMARK (UPHILL) 

Having found a suitable slope — about twenty 
degrees steep — run across this slope in normal posi- 
tion. Assuming that you wish to make an uphill 
swing to the left, the slope will be on your left-hand 
side. 

Preparation for the swing. — Fall into the Telemark 
position with the lower foot leading. The right leg 
should be bent at the knee and from the knee down- 
wards should be perpendicular to the ski. The left 
knee should be elastic and, of course, not so much 
bent as the front knee. The left heel should be 
raised, and the point of the back ski should be level 
with the right ankle. Run in this position for a few 
feet before beginning to turn, so as to get the feel of 
the Telemark position. (Of course when you are 
expert, the two movements — dropping into Telemark 



HOW TO SKI 83 

position and making the swing should be almost 
simultaneous.) 

The swing. — Thrust out the right heel so that the 
skis assume a convergent position as shown in Fig. 
8, slightly flattening the right ski against the slope. 
The only difference between this and the stemming 
position is that in the latter the points of the skis are 
close together, in the former the inside ski is well to 




FIG. 8.— UPHILL TELEMARK 

the rear and the front ski crosses in front of the point 

of the back ski. 
As you thrust out the heel of the right foot, at the 

same time flattening the right ski you will at once 

begin to swing round to the slope. You have only to 

hold this position firmly to complete the turn. 

As in all steered swings or turns, the steering 
ction is produced by the angle between the ski and 
ot by body movement. Any attempt to force the_ 
lrn by leaning in will be fatal. You will instinc- 
vely lean in at the end of the turn, and save at very 

xdgh speeds it is not necessary to lean in consciously. 

Even at high speeds the inward lean must not be 



84 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

used to start the turn, and must not be brought into 
play before the turn is completed. 

It is a useful tip to keep your eye firmly fixed on the 
point of the back ski. This prevents you trying to 
force the turn by leaning in. You must also be 
careful not to poke forward the leading ski, but 
to keep your leg from the knee down perpendicular 
to the ski; this is vital. If you poke forward the 
leading ski, or if you allow the back ski to slide back 
too far, the turn will miscarry or your skis will cross 
behind. It is a good plan to hold the up-turn of the 
back ski pressed against the ankle of the right foot. 
This prevents the ski sliding back too far or coming 
forward suddenly. It is vital to keep the skis in the 
same relative position until the turn is completed. 
Beginners get nervous and bring up the back ski with 
a rush before the turn is completed, or they throw 
their weight on the back ski, or they lose the angle 
between the skis and let the skis run parallel. 

See also ' general directions/ pp. 57-58. 

TELEMARK (DOWNHILL) 

A downhill Telemark to the right is made as 
follows : — 

The slope will be on your left as you start the swing, 
and on your right when you finish the swing. 

To start the swing, fall into the Telemark position 
with the top foot leading. (To make an uphill swing you 
fall into Telemark position with the lower foot leading.) 

Your upper foot — in this case the left — goes 
through much the same movements as the lower foot 



HOW TO SKI 



85 



in the case of an uphill swing. The knee of the upper 
foot is bent, the leg is perpendicular to the skis 
from the knee downwards, the upper ski is placed on 
its inside edge and the heel of your upper foot is 
thrust outwards. (See Fig. 9.) 




FIG. 9.— DOWNHILL TELEMARK 



In order to start the swing it is necessary to keep 
a little weight on the back ski. In all steered swings 
the weight cannot be entirely on one ski, either the 
leading or the back ski, as in this case no steering 
effect will be produced. In the case of a downhill 
Telemark more weight must be kept on the back ski 



86 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

to start the swing than in the case of an uphill Tele- 
mark. 

The swing is started, as explained, much as the 
uphill swing is started, the only difference being that 
you lead with the top foot in the case of a downhill, 
and with the bottom foot in the case of the uphill 
turn. 

The leading ski in this case is put on its inside 
edge. In both cases the heel of the foot on the 
leading ski is thrust boldly out. In both cases the 
eye is kept firmly fixed on the point of the back ski 
throughout the turn (most important), and the up- 
turn of the back ski is kept pressed against the 
ankle of the leading foot. 

Keep a little weight on the back ski to start the 
swing, and you will find — if you observe the above 
directions — that the ski will immediately begin to 
turn downhill. The moment that the leading ski (in 
this case the left ski) is pointing downhill you can 
transfer all your weight to it, throwing your weight 
on to the heel of your left foot. At the same moment 
you must be careful not to hang back, and you must 
lean out down the slope rather than in to the slope. 
This will bring you round, the point of your leading 
ski will turn uphill and your back ski will follow the 
leading ski round the moment the weight is taken 
off it. 

Thus the key to the downhill Telemark is to weight 
the back ski a little to start the turn, and to throw 
the weight boldly on to the leading ski the moment 
the leading ski is pointing downhill, and on to the 
heel of the leading foot. 




if 




HALFWAY THROUGH A DOWNHILL TELKMARK 



HOW TO SKI 87 

Everything that has been said of the uphill Tele- 
mark applies equally to the downhill Telemark. It 
is even more important in the downhill Telemark 
not to poke your ski forward or to let the back ski 
slide back too far, as otherwise your skis will cross, and 
crossed skis at the end of a downhill Telemark may 
produce a dangerous fall. (It is, of course, easier to 
cross behind if you are using short skis, but if you 
adopt the plan I have suggested, keeping the up-turn 
of the back ski tucked into the ankle of the leading 
foot you will never cross. I have crossed behind 
often while using the longest pair of skis that I possess 
(2*36) and I have Telemarked again and again on 
short summer skis without crossing. Crossing is the 
result of poking forward the leading ski and failing 
to keep the front leg at right angles to the ski from 
the knee downwards.) 

For the rest the ' general directions,' pp. 57-58, 
apply to the downhill Telemark as to all steered 
turns. I hope the reader will not get bored with 
constant references to these pages. He might do far 
worse than memorize these ' general directions ' 
and repeat them to himself every time he tries an 
unfamiliar swing. 

There are many small points about the Telemark 
which are worth noting. 

If you wish to make a short, abrupt Telemark you 
will keep your weight well back on the back leg, and 
you will increase the angle between the skis, giving 
a much more forceful lunge outwards with the heel 
of your leading foot. Your weight must be almost 



88 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

entirely on the back ski until the leading ski has come 
well round, when you can transfer your weight to 
the leading ski, throwing it on the heel of your leading 
leg. The more you weight the heel and the more 
you lean forward and outwards from the slope, the 
more abrupt will be your turn. It is possible to make 
downhill Telemarks within the breadth of six or 
seven feet. 

On the other hand, for a long sweeping Telemark 
you will only weight your back foot to start the 
swing, and will immediately transfer your weight to 
the leading foot the moment the swing is started. 
The quicker you take your weight off the back ski, 
and the less you thrust out the heel of the leading 
foot and the smaller the angle between the skis, the 
longer and faster will be the swing. 

In good powder snow for a fast and moderately 
long Telemark it is only necessary to weight the 
back ski for a second to start the turn, and it is 
only necessary to apply very moderate pressure to 
the heel of the leading foot. The mere edging-in of 
the leading ski suffices to start the turn. 

In soft, breakable crust, on the other hand, the 
turn must be carried through very accurately. In 
powder snow one can Telemark in various undefined 
ways, but in crust, accuracy and care are necessary. 
It is essential in difficult snow to keep the knee of 
the leading leg well forward. 

If the breakable crust is very resistant there will 
be a difficult moment before the leading ski bites into 
the crust, and if you lose your nerve it will skid over 
the crust instead of cutting through it. But if you 



HOW TO SKI 89 

weight the leading heel boldly and keep your lead- 
ing knee well over your foot, the leading ski will 
suddenly sheer through the crust and you will come 
round at once. 

Linked Telemarks in crust are a very fine sensation, 
but the swing is not exactly easy. The power to do 
Telemarks in crust is most useful for ski-ing in the 
late spring just about twilight. 

It is possible to do Telemarks on hard crust or on 
crust superficially softened. There is not much 
object, however, in doing Telemarks on a surface 
which is admirably suited to ' Clostis ' or Chris- 
tianias. Still they are a useful exercise for the 
balance. On slippery crust, or crust covered by a 
shallow layer of soft snow the main difficulty is to 
control the leading ski and to prevent it side-slipping 
as you finish the swing. To insure an even finish, 
the knee should be pressed well inwards, and you 
should try to feel the toe-straps on the leading ski. 
Press your toes up against the toe-straps and thrust 
the heel of the foot outwards. This gives a peculiar 
feeling of grinding the inside edge of the ski into the 
snow. 

On very slippery snow you should straighten up 
rather sooner than in soft snow. But Telemarks on 
hard crust, or crust covered with shallow snow, 
though an amusing exercise, may be left to experts. 
The beginner can be well content if he can execute 
Telemarks in the snow which suits them, soft, deep 
powder snow or soft, breakable crust. On hard crust 
he need not bother to master any other swings but 
the Stemming, Christiania and ' Closti ' swings. 



90 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

Christianias in deep soft snow and Telemarks on 
crust serve no useful object. 

The reader may perhaps notice that the method 
I recommend for making a downhill or linked Tele- 
mark differs from those printed in most text-books. 

Most writers, and nearly all ski teachers, insist that 
in the Telemark the essential thing is to get all the 
weight on to the front ski. 

This is a curious mistake. 

Fig. 10 represents the skis held in the Telemark 
position prior to making a downhill swing to the left. 

We will suppose that all the weight is on the 
leading ski. The snow is assumed to be soft and 
powdery with very little side-slip. It is obvious that 
if the leading ski (A) is weighted and if the back ski 
(B) is absolutely unweighted, A will simply run across 
the slope in the direction of the dotted line. A will 
be in the position of a boat in which the rudder 
is entirely out of the water, for B is the rudder, 
as explained above, and if B is absolutely un- 
weighted, B can exercise no effect of any kind, still 
less any steering effect. The only way to make A 
turn is to weight both A and B, so as to produce the 
steering effect by the divergent angle between A and 
B, just as steering effect is produced in a boat by the 
divergent angle between the boat and the rudder. 
If the rudder was out of the water, it would obviously 
be useless. The bad advice ' Get all your weight on 
to the leading ski ' is usually neutralized because the 
beginner is told to thrust out his leading heel. Now 
it is quite impossible to thrust out your leading heel 



HOW TO SKI 91 

without weighting the back foot. Stand up against 
a wall and turn your foot so that the heel of one foot 
is against the wall and try to thrust at the wall with 
the heel of this foot. The more you thrust the more 
weight will come on to your back foot. The same 
is true of the Telemark swing. The more you thrust 
out the heel of the leading foot, the more weight will 
come on to your back ski. It is, however, of vital 




* 

/ 



FIG. IO 



importance to remember that weighting the back ski 
does not mean hanging back, leaning on the back 
ski and poking the front foot forward. For this 
reason it is dangerous for a beginner to think too 
much about weighting the back ski. If he keeps his 
front knee forward, hiding the instep of his leading 
foot, and if he thrusts out the heel of his leading foot, 
he will almost always succeed. 

It is impossible to start a downhill swing without 
some weight on the back ski, but the moment the 



92 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

swing is fairly under way, the weight can be trans- 
ferred to the leading foot. 



JUMPING ROUND 

Once you have mastered the stemming turn, the 
Christiania or Closti, and the Telemark, you will be 
able to make turns either on hard snow or in soft 
snow, or even in soft, breakable crust. You will, 
however, occasionally meet with snow the surface 
of which is covered by a crust which breaks under 
the skis, but which is not soft enough to enable you 
to force a Telemark. In snow such as this the quick- 
est and neatest method of stopping or turning is to 
jump round. You need not wait until you have 
found breakable crust before practising the jump 
round ; it can be practised on the practice ground or 
on any snow which is not soft and clinging. It is 
best to begin with quite small jumps. Run across 
a slope with the hill on your right and your skis 
close together. The jump differs from an ordinary 
jump in that it must be made with both feet at 
once. The knees must be kept close together and 
the skis parallel, and the jump must be made simul- 
taneously with both feet, in this differing essen- 
tially from an ordinary high-jump on foot. You 
should, of course, jump round so that your skis on 
alighting are horizontal or pointing uphill. If you 
begin from a gentle traverse you will, of course, only 
have to jump round through a very small angle in 
order to stop dead. You should gradually go on 
increasing the angle of your jump until you can stop 




H 

s 
p. 

w 

u 



HOW TO SKI 93 

with a jump when you are running straight downhill. 
In this case your skis will be pointing down the slope 
before you jump, and should be horizontal when your 
jump is completed, and your skis will therefore have 
turned to an angle of about ninety degrees. When 
you can make a jump round from a straight run at 
a moderate speed you should begin to practise the 
jump round as a means of Unking one tack with 
another. This is considerably more difficult, as on 
a steep slope the back of the skis tend to strike the 
slope if the jump is not sufficiently pronounced, but 
with a little practice the jump round can be used for 
making a linked turn in either direction. The points 
of the skis, in fact, need to be well lifted for an uphill 
jump, and the heels must be lifted when a jump is 
used to connect two tacks. It is, of course, difficult 
to jump any height if your legs remain straight; 
you should therefore pick your legs up, more or less 
as if you were trying to skip with skis on your feet. 
In this, as in all other ski-ing turns and swings, it 
is essential not to hang back but to lean well forward. 
In the jump used to connect two tacks the tendency 
to hang back is very marked. It is a good plan to 
pretend that you are diving head first down the 
slope, your natural instincts will be quite sufficient 
to prevent you falling on your head. In order to 
prepare for the jump it is best to crouch quite low. 
Hold your sticks in the middle and horizontal and 
crouch down till you can touch your ankles with 
your hands, otherwise you will probably not crouch 
half as low as you imagine yourself to be crouching. 
Count one as you crouch down, and two as you jump, 



94 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

and try to make the whole movement rhythmical, 
free and swinging, and not nervous and jerky. Many 
runners find it very helpful to give a prod with their 
left stick if they are jumping round to the left and 
vice versa, but it is quite possible to make the jump 
round without this prod, and it is better to avoid it. 
Of course, in no case will you put both sticks into one 
hand. The jump round cannot be made at a very 
high speed. It is presumably being made on crusted 
snow, so that there will be no side-slips when the 
jump is completed, and if you attempt to jump round 
at a high speed you will almost be certain to be 
thrown outwards. At moderate speeds you will have 
to lean in consciously as you land, but at first you 
will have to guard against the tendency of over- 
leaning and of hanging back. The jump round is 
a very tiring manoeuvre, especially if one is carrying 
a very heavy sack. It is therefore only a very 
practicable turn on moderate tours, and is almost 
useless for a mountaineer who is heavily laden. It 
is, however, very well worth practising, as apart from 
its intrinsic value it is an admirable preparation for 
the jerked Christiania or jerked Closti. 

HOW TO USE THE SWINGS ON TOUR 

Turns and swings are not an end in themselves, 
as is the case with skating turns. Straight running 
is the ideal ; turns a regrettable necessity, though 
fortunately the sensation of fast swings is almost, 
if not quite, as fine as that of a fast straight run. 

The turns and swings are used (a) to avoid ob- 



HOW TO SKI 95 

stacles, (b) to control speed on a slope which cannot 
be taken straight. 

On an open slope the ski-runner can place his turns 
where he finds convenient. He has time to prepare 
for each turn, and if the slope is big he can allow an 
interval between turns. The beginner's early efforts 
will all be on open slopes, and by the time he can run 
down a steepish slope in a series of linked Telemarks 
or Christianias he may begin to fancy that he has 
mastered the swings. He has still, however, to learn 
to swing at a moment's notice, and to follow up one 
swing with another without more than a few seconds 
between each swing. This is much more difficult 
than making swings on an open slope. It is for this 
reason that wood running is such excellent practice, 
provided that the trees are not too close together to 
forbid continuous running in linked swings. 

The beginner will at first be disappointed. The 
swing which came so easily on an open slope seems 
to miscarry the first time that he is in real need of 
its services. He desires, for instance, to stop suddenly 
just in front of a tree or other obstacle. His natural 
desire to avoid hitting the tree will cause him to lean 
far too much away from the tree as he makes his 
swing. All the good advice which he has digested, 
the advice summed up in the fact that to swing one 
must not lean in and must not try to force the swing 
by body action, will be forgotten the first time that 
he really needs to remember it. He will lean heavily 
in ; the swing will misfire and he will be lucky if he 
does not cannon into the tree or fall heavily. 

Further, on an open slope there is plenty of time 



96 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

to prepare for each swing. After one swing, the 
beginner can straighten up and run down the hill at 
a traverse in normal position before beginning the 
next swing. But in a wood it is often necessary to 
make two swings in rapid succession, i.e. a Chris- 
tiania to the left followed by a Telemark to the right. 
It is difficult to make two consecutive Telemarks in 
rapid succession, as the back leg has to be brought 
forward very quickly and the front leg slid back. It 
is easier to follow up a Telemark to the left with a 
Christiania to the right than with a Telemark to the 
right. On the other hand, anybody who can make 
good ' Clostis ' or downhill jerked Christianias will 
find no great difficulty in following a jerked Chris- 
tiania to the left with a jerked Christiania or Closti 
to the right. 

Until you can make a swing at a moment's notice 
and place it within a fairly narrow margin of ground, 
and until you can follow up a swing one way with a 
swing the other way without a long pause between, 
you have still a great deal to learn, however perfect 
your swings may be on open slopes. This is why 
wood running is such excellent practice : it is more 
than a mere coincidence that Christiania ski-runners 
are as famous, as the country round Christiania is 
wooded. There is hardly an open slope of any 
length within five miles of Christiania. 

Remember, too, that the snow will often be ex- 
cellent in woods while it has been spoiled by the 
wind on open slopes. Seize every opportunity of 
wood running. Larch is usually better than pine, 
as larches do not crowd so closely together. 



HOW TO SKI 97 



THE COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGES OF THE VARIOUS 
SWINGS 

The expert can make any kind of swing on almost 
any kind of snow, Telemarks on hard crust and Chris- 
tianias in deep, soft snow. 

As swings are not an end in themselves, there is no 
real point in doing a swing which is not suited to a 
certain type of snow where another swing serves 
the purpose equally well. Therefore in deep, soft 
snow and in soft, breakable crust use the Telemark. 
On hard snow use stemming turns and Christianias. 
Whereas, however, the average English runner soon 
becomes a proficient Telemarker, many runners 
seem to prefer using a Telemark in preference to a 
stemming turn even on snow which is most unsuit- 
able. The Telemark is more used by English runners 
than any other turn. This is altogether unsound, 
for the Telemark is, in my opinion, less generally 
serviceable than the Christiania and stemming turn. 
Wherever either swing is equally easy I prefer to 
use the Christiania or ' Closti ' to the Telemark. 
This is especially true of very long expeditions, for 
there is no doubt that the Telemark is a more tiring 
turn than the Christiania. The latter is a two-foot 
turn ; at the beginning and end of the turn the ski 
are nearly parallel and the weight is divided between 
both legs. Furthermore, the position of your legs 
throughout is easy and natural. The Telemark is 
a one-foot turn ; at the end of the swing practically 
the whole weight is on the front foot. In case any- 



98 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

thing goes wrong the back foot is out of action and 
can only with difficulty be brought up to help the 
balance. Falls resulting from the Telemark break 
more legs than from any other turn, owing to the 
tendency of the skis to cross behind. In good snow 
the Telemark is an effortless turn, but where the snow 
is catchy or inclined to skid the Telemark is a dis- 
tinct strain. This does not matter on short tours, 
but on long expeditions, especially those in the High 
Alps, every ounce of extra effort is serious, and in 
the High Alps the stemming turn on difficult snow 
and linked Clostis or Christianias on good snow seem 
to me far preferable for general use to the Telemark. 
If you are carrying a heavy sack, a sudden Telemark 
is apt to upset you, for the sack swings round and, 
owing to the Telemark position, it is much more 
difficult to withstand any sudden outward strain — 
such as that caused by the sack — than in the Chris- 
tiania position. Finally, the Telemark is a one-foot 
and the Christiania or Closti a two-foot turn, so that 
in the former case the strain and weight come prim- 
arily on the leading foot. 

The Stemming turn on difficult and the ' Closti ; 
or jerked Closti on easy snow, and the Telemark in 
soft breakable crust or in really good powder snow, 
is my own practice. I have already explained that 
though any form of Christiania can be used for a stop 
turn, the ' Closti/ helped out, perhaps, with a jerk, 
is the safest form of Christiania for downhill linked 
turns. 

The ordinary open Christiania is a delightful and 
most effective swing on good snow, but on crust that 



HOW TO SKI 99 

is irregular, lumpy or catchy, you are liable to have 
a nasty fall. The skis instead of coming round run 
apart if the outside ski catches any obstruction. I 
have seen one knee very badly strained as a result 
of an open Christiania that had gone wrong. 

Personally I never feel so safe as when making 
jerked ' Clostis ' at high speed on any snow save very 
deep powder snow, soft breakable crust, or the smooth 
polished glassy crust that one sometimes finds in 
winter on south slopes or — of course — on snow spoiled 
by the wind. On almost any other kind of snow the 
' Closti ' seems to me to be the safest, least tiring, 
and most effective of all swings. 



USE OF THE STICK 

I have assumed that the beginner never uses his 
stick as a brake, that he habitually skis with a stick 
in each hand, and that beyond an occasional prod 
with a single stick at the end of a fast swing he re- 
gards the sticks solely as a help uphill. 

Until he has passed the third-class test he had 
better regard all other uses of the stick as taboo. 
There are, however, a few exceptional cases where 
the stick can be and should be used as a brake. 

The fastest way of descending a hill is a straight, 
free descent without using your sticks. The next 
fastest way is to run down straight, braking with your 
sticks. A free descent without sticks in a series of 
linked turns is slower than a straight descent helped 
out by stick braking. 

On most expeditions speed is not so important 



ioo CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

that it is worth while spoiling a run in order to save 
a few minutes. It is therefore far more enjoyable 
and far less tiring, and far better for your ski-ing to 
descend a hill by linked stickless swings than by a 
straight run helped out by braking with your sticks. 
Only when speed is really vital should the stick be 
deliberately employed as a brake. 

In a race, for instance, even a fine runner will find 
sticks useful if he knows how to use them. There 
are slopes which the finest Norwegian could not take 
straight because the outrun is too abrupt, and there 
are slopes which he could just take straight if he 
could reduce his speed so as to reach the outrun 
rather less rapidly than would be the case in a free 
descent. Therefore if he is racing he should run all 
slopes straight — most slopes straight and without 
using his sticks — but such slopes as he cannot take 
straight in a free descent he must run straight, check- 
ing his speed with his sticks. 

I have judged the Roberts of Kandahar race on 
four occasions. On each occasion the winner used 
his sticks. On three occasions the race was won by 
J. L. Mercer, who is one of the finest ski runners that 
England has yet produced. Apart from racing he 
never uses his sticks but runs in the free Norwegian 
style. He ran steep slopes straight in Telemark 
position with both sticks held firmly together and 
used deliberately as a brake. 

But it is not only in a race that speed is vital. A 
mountaineer will often have to race not against 
human competitors but against the oncoming night 
or the threat of a storm. I remember once finding 



HOW TO SKI 101 

myself on a glacier pass at five o'clock on a winter's 
evening. Our party had climbed seven thousand 
feet on deep powder snow and we were all very tired. 
The valley was six thousand feet below. The snow 
w r as difficult, wind-blown and hard. My friend had 
been brought up in the true faith, and he had never 
learned to use his sticks. He despised stick riding, 
which was very right and proper, but, none the less, 
he soon regretted that he did not know how to use 
his sticks. I was able to run straight and fast over 
this difficult snow by copious use of my sticks as a 
brake, whereas he had to run in gentle tacks. As 
a result we lost precious time. Half-an-hour saved 
on the summit slopes would have saved three hours 
lower down, for the night came before we had reached 
easy ground, and we had three hours of difficult ski- 
ing by lantern light. 

In a mist, in bad light or in a storm, it is vital to 
know how to use your sticks. I remember another 
occasion when the light failed at the end of a very 
long day. We had climbed eight thousand feet in 
deep snow, and the last rays of light found us ski-ing 
in a thick nebelmeer. My friend and I had both 
learned to stick-ride in prehistoric days, and we ran 
down in Telemark position braking with our sticks and 
managed to get down fifteen hundred feet in bad 
light in about a quarter of an hour, thanks to our 
sturdy sticks. Incidentally I should remark that 
for bad light where gradients are difficult to detect 
there is nothing to beat the Telemark position with 
both sticks firmly held in the same hand and used 
as a brake. 



102 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

On snow which varies in speed from yard to yard, 
such as hard, wind-swept crust, varied by soft pockets 
of sticky snow, you can either descend in a series of 
very gentle tacks or you can run straight, riding 
boldly on your stick. The former is the pleasanter, 
the latter the faster method, and where speed is 
important the latter method should be adopted. 

In breakable crust the stick is often useful. Of 
course the proper method is to jump round, and on 
short tours the jump round is an amusing and useful 
manoeuvre. But for serious mountaineering the 
jump round is far too tiring. If you doubt this, 
climb six or seven thousand feet with a heavy sack 
and try to make your turns in difficult snow on the 
descent by jumping round ! With a heavy sack the 
jump round is a waste of energy. 

There is a certain type of soft breakable crust in 
which slow Telemarks are quite easy, but in which 
a fast stop turn is almost impossible by normal 
methods. If you try to stop by a Telemark you are 
almost certain to be thrown outwards. If you lean 
in to start the turn, your ski will not come round, and 
if your speed is really high, your ski will stop so 
dead in the breakable crust when the turn is com- 
pleted that an outward fall is almost inevitable. 
The same is even more true of the jump round, which 
can only be done at moderate speeds. Now it is 
sometimes necessary to stop suddenly while travelling 
very fast in soft breakable crust, and on such occasions 

hastily put both sticks into the same hand and stop 
by means of the good old-fashioned ( Stick Chris- 
tiania/ The stick properly used enables one to get 



HOW TO SKI 103 

enough weight off one's ski to start the turn — even 
if there is much resistance from the breakable crust — 
and the stick also enables you to exaggerate the in- 
ward lean at the end of the turn without any fear 
that you will fall inwards. 

On very difficult snow the stick can also be used 
to help out a downhill stemming turn. 

There is, of course, a right way and a wrong way 
to use your sticks. It is no use hanging heavily back 
and leaning back on to the sticks. The real test is 
whether you would fall backwards if your sticks 
were suddenly removed. The sticks are not intended 
as a support but as a brake. You should run in 
normal position, crouching fairly low, and you should 
lean forwards not backwards. See page 42 for the 
proper method of crouching. Your sticks should be 
held together, and you should get your hands as low 
down on the sticks as possible. On really difficult 
gradients you may put your sticks between your 
legs and even ride on them. 

Caulfeild's classic was written at a time when 
British ski-ing was at a low ebb. It was necessary 
to exaggerate the reaction against the universal habit 
of stick riding which disfigured British running. His 
book served its purpose, and the old ugly style dis- 
appeared. It may now be admitted, without fear 
of a general relapse, that the occasional use of the 
stick is not only permissible but desirable. Where 
speed is really essential the stick should be used as 
a brake, and slopes should be run as straight as pos- 
sible. Everybody — even Caulfeild — would admit this. 



104 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

The few real stickless bigots are usually people who 
have no notion how to use the stick, and who have 
never climbed more than three or four thousand feet 
in a day. No mountaineer of any experience who 
knew how to use his stick would maintain the dogma 
of pure sticklessness. 

I write this with a certain nervousness, for the 
occasions when the stick can be used without shame 
are so few and far between that I hesitate to say any- 
thing which might lead the beginner astray. I have 
skied for day after day among the High Alps on 
every type of snow without ever using the stick, and 
on small expeditions I don't suppose I use my sticks 
once in a season. It is far better to run more slowly 
without the sticks than quickly with the sticks on 
ninety-nine times out of a hundred. The good 
runner can almost always jump round if the snow is 
really difficult, except on very long tours or when he 
is very heavily laden. 

So I would say (i) Don't use your sticks at all till 
you have passed the third-class test. (2) Don't use 
them even then unless speed is of primary import- 
ance, as in a race either against competitors or against 
storm and night. 

The less you use the stick, the more useful you will 
find the sticks in an emergency provided you know 
how to use them. Twenty years ago when I began 
to ski I always used my sticks, and consequently I 
never found their assistance gave me any confidence. 
Now that I have given up their use, I find that if 
I have to use them, the additional security they give 
me is priceless for fast running on bad snow. It is 



HOW TO SKI 105 

a real relief after a severe day in the High Alps to 
wind up with half an hour of stick riding where the 
snow or the light makes free running difficult. But 
this relief is the reward of many seasons in which 
the use of the stick was entirely abandoned. 



CHAPTER V 
THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT 

THE expert cross-country ski-runner must not 
only be a fast and safe runner on all kinds of 
snow and ground, but he must also possess a thorough 
knowledge of snowcraft. Unfortunately there are 
nine ski-runners whose Telemarks are perfect for one 
whose knowledge of snow is even adequate, and the 
number of those whose understanding of snow in all 
seasons of the year is really expert is still extremely 
small. A rudimentary knowledge of snow conditions 
is forced on even the least observant. A man who 
has run from fast into sticky snow and pitched 
heavily on his face is almost forced to make certain 
deductions as to the fickle habits of his running 
surface. Furthermore, a ski-runner's knowledge of 
snow needs to be instinctive. On foot a man has 
time to probe and to examine, but on skis you have 
to diagnose the snow while travelling at a high speed. 
A mottled look on the slope far below, an instinctive 
realization that you are travelling from a west slope 
on to a south-west slope with the consequent change 
of snow, such are the almost instantaneous clues 
which determine the position of ski and body with 
which you may successfully meet a sudden change 

100 



THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT 107 

of speed on the part of the snow. I have said ' in- 
stinctive/ but instinct is merely the rapid and un- 
conscious application of past experiences. 

In this chapter I cannot do more than summarize 
some of the more elementary facts about snow. For 
a fuller treatment of the subject I refer the reader 
to my own contribution to Mountain Craft, edited by 
Mr. G. W. Young. 

In winter the best snow is usually found on northern 
slopes. A normal snowfall is accompanied by a 
temperature below freezing. For a day or two after 
the snow has stopped falling the snow will be usually 
rather heavy and slow, but, day by day, it improves, 
and if the frosts at night are sharp, newly fallen 
snow will usually give excellent running. Every ski- 
runner is familiar with powder snow, the typical 
winter snow in which straight running and swings 
are easy and safe. 

Powder snow remains unspoiled until it is affected 
either by sun, by wind, or by general air temperature 
above freezing. Of these wind is the most disastrous. 
Snow which has been exposed to strong wind pre- 
sents the most unpleasant appearance. It is always 
crusted, and the crust is sometimes icy, and is some- 
times varied by soft pockets of sticky snow. Wind 
never does any good to snow, and although powder 
snow which has only been rippled by the wind is 
quite skiable, half-an-hour's storm is quite sufficient 
to wreck a perfect snow slope. 

The effect of the sun is less disastrous and depends 
mainly upon the angle of inclination. In mid-winter, 
for instance, a northern slope remains unaffected by 



108 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

the sun even though it is exposed to the sun for 
several hours in the course of the day. Even level 
slopes in mid-winter remain powdery for a consider- 
able time. On the other hand south slopes soon 
acquire a crust. The snow melts by day and re- 
freezes by night. At first the crust is soft and break- 
able, and soft, breakable crust, provided it is true 
and does not vary in speed one place to another, is 
quite a good running surface. The expert can bring 
off Telemarks in breakable crust without much 
difficulty. Sometimes, however, the crust is solid 
at one point, and bears the ski without breaking 
only to crack a few yards lower down. This kind 
of crust, known as ' trap crust/ is frequently more 
common in spring than in winter ; it is perhaps the 
worst of all possible ski-ing surfaces. 

In winter breakable crust soon changes into solid 
crust as the process of melting and re-freezing con- 
tinues. Solid crust formed in winter is usually very 
hard and very slippery and gives little purchase to 
the skis. On steep slopes it is a tiresome running 
surface as the ski skids sideways, and it is difficult to 
obtain sufficient purchase to start or finish a turn. 
This crust is known as marble crust. 

In winter the choice of route for the descent is 
usually simple ; the best snow is usually found on 
northern slopes. If you cannot get a slope that 
faces north, select a route of down slopes which are 
just north of west, or of east. A degree or two of 
north makes a world of difference. 

In mid-winter slopes which face east or west often 
hold powder snow for a very long time ; slopes which 



THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT 109 

face a few degrees south of east or west will hold 
powder for some days. Of course, an eastern slope 
gets exactly the same amount of sun as a western 
slope, and further, the sun strikes both slopes at the 
same angle. One would therefore presume that 
snow would be similarly affected on, say, a south- 
east and on a south-west slope, or on a due east and 
a due west slope. None the less, numerous and care- 
ful observations to test this question convince me 
that eastern slopes yield better ski-ing than western. 
It may be that the cold morning air tends to protect 
the snow more from the sun than the warmer after- 
noon air ; that the morning sun has first to warm the 
atmosphere before it can affect the snow, and that 
this gives eastern slopes a slight advantage. What- 
ever may be the reason, it is certainly true that snow 
on eastern slopes remains good rather longer than 
on western slopes. 

Further, westerly winds are very much more 
common than east winds, so that snow facing east 
is less likely to be disturbed by wind. 

Even on a slope which faces south, it is often pos- 
sible to find northern snow. The descent from the 
Wildgerst to Rosenlaui is a case in point. The 
descent lies, in the main, down slopes which face 
nearly due south, but there is a small tributary ridge, 
not more than two hundred feet in height, which 
runs out from a point just below the Wildgerst : its 
general direction is at first due east, and later, south- 
east, and it extends for some considerable distance 
down to Rosenlaui. I remember running down in 
the shadow of this little ridge and finding perfect 



no CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

powder snow on its northern and north-eastern slopes, 
though the snow all around had been spoiled by the 
sun. If your descent lies down a slope, whose general 
direction is southerly, you should always look out 
for any tributary ridge which is not at right angles to 
the slope. Of course if the slope is due south and 
the tributary ridge runs from north to south it will 
not help you very much : but such cases are ex- 
ceptional. On the other hand you will often find a 
slope which faces, say, south-east and a tributary 
slope which runs out in a more or less easterly 
direction, thus giving a choice of route either on 
its north side, which should hold powder snow, or 
on its south side where the snow will probably be 
crusted. 

It is most important to realize such possibilities, 
more especially at the beginning and at the end of 
the winter, in early November and in early March. 
Even the smallest mounds or ridges are formed by 
slopes which face in at least two directions. It is 
quite common to find on a slope whose general direc- 
tion is easterly or westerly, mounds or little ridges 
which hold powder snow on their north and crusted 
snow on their south sides. I have seen a little hillock 
not more than three feet high with perfect powder 
on one side and crust on the other side. A little 
ridge running down a slope, perhaps six feet in height, 
will often yield a perfect ribbon of powder snow, a 
yard or two in breadth, surrounded by crusted 
snow. 



THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT ill 



SPRING SNOW 

There is one important difference between winter 
and spring ski-ing. In mid-winter if a slope has 
been spoiled by wind or by thaw, it will remain 
usually bad until new snow falls. The winter sun is 
strong enough to melt snow on a south slope, thereby 
forming a crust, but it is usually not strong enough to 
remelt a crust once formed, though it may produce 
a surface softening which will give good ski-ing 
during the hottest part of the day. 

In spring, on the other hand, every snow-slope 
goes through a daily cycle of changes. At dawn on 
a typical spring day (say April) the snow will be hard, 
unbreakable crust. When the sun strikes this crust 
it will, at first, superficially soften and for an hour 
or even more will yield wonderful running, for, with 
the exception of perfect powder snow there is no 
ski-ing surface finer than hard crust superficially 
softened to a depth of an inch or two by the sun. 
This kind of crust is called Telemark crust. 

Towards midday the Telemark crust disappears, 
all trace of underlying crust usually vanishes and the 
slopes are covered by wet thawed snow. (Of course 
at high altitudes even powder snow is not unknown 
in April, and at moderate altitudes the snow may 
become wet and heavy without being thawed through 
right down to the ground.) In general, the early 
afternoon is a bad and very dangerous period of a 
spring day. It is in the early afternoon or just before 
midday that most of the great spring avalanches fall. 



H2 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

Towards sunset the snow begins to freeze again 
and assume a crust. This crust is at first soft and 
breakable and gives good running directly it begins 
to get cold. Eventually the soft breakable crust is 
frozen solid, and as the last light disappears, the 
slopes will again be covered by hard, unbreakable 
crust. The cycle of the spring day is complete. 

Now whatever has gone before, the sun is strong 
enough to produce the same cycle of changes directly 
normal weather returns. Provided a slope is covered 
by snow, the first day of sun followed by frost at 
night will produce a hard crust on the following 
morning. Wind, the great enemy of the winter ski- 
runner, has no effect in spring, for even if the wind 
spoils a slope of newly fallen snow, the spring sun 
is sufficiently powerful to reduce the wind-formed 
crust to soft, thawed snow, which is again melted and 
re-frozen into hard crust. 

Hard crust at dawn — Telemark crust before mid- 
day — soft snow in the afternoon — soft, breakable 
crust at sunset — hard crust at night. 

Such is the cycle of a spring day. 

Spring ski-ing is delightful. In March powder 
snow, rather heavier and slower than winter powder, 
is very common on north slopes. This is a fine 
surface, but it is rather liable to avalanche. 

The normal morning snow is ' Telemark crust ' pro- 
vided, of course, you can time your descent aright, 
but the evening snows are also very good indeed. 

Ski-ing in March, April, and even in May is often 
quite first-class. I have skied at Miirren down to 



THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT 113 

5000 feet into the middle of May — not owing to an 
accidental snowfall, but in fine May weather. In 
March, powder snow is common right down to 5000 
feet on northern slopes. This so-called spring 
powder is more compact, less powdery, and not so 
fast as the dry powder of winter. It is, none the less, 
a first-class running surface with only one disadvan- 
tage : it is rather liable to avalanche. But the 
finest spring running is obtained early in the morning 
in April or in May. 

I have already explained that the crust formed in 
winter either by sun or by wind is usually unpleasant. 
Marble crust is hard, very slippery, and does not 
afford enough purchase to make swings easy. 

In April, on the other hand, the solid hard crust 
found at dawn on all slopes save at very high altitudes, 
is not nearly so smooth. It is covered by little holes ; 
its texture is rougher : it gives an admirable pur- 
chase, so that stemming turns and Christianias are 
easy even on very steep slopes. 

This kind of crust is called perforated crust. 

There is another kind of crust which is found on 
the glaciers in May and June which is known as film 
crust. Unlike marble crust and perforated crust, it 
is not quite homogeneous. It is composed of a hard 
under-surface of solid crust, covered by a very thin, 
transparent film of soft ice which glistens in the sun 
like burnished silver. This film gives a wonderful 
purchase. As the skis come round on a fast swing, 
this soft film is shaved off the underlying surface ; 
it is sufficiently powerful to prevent side-slip ; suf- 



ii4 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

ficiently soft to give way as the skis cut round on a 
swing. 

But if I get on to the subject of May ski-ing among 
the glaciers — for me the finest form of ski-ing yet 
discovered — I shall waste more space than I can 
afford. 

The reader will have noticed that marble crust 
formed by the low temperatures of winter is very 
unpleasant, that perforated crust formed by the milder 
temperatures of early spring is a fine surface, and that 
film crust formed by the still milder temperatures of 
May or June is even better. This fact puzzled me 
for some time : I am still unable to account for it, 
but snow certainly seems to obey a law which may 
be expressed as follows : 

Provided the night's frost is sufficiently severe to 
produce a solid crust, the milder the frost the better 
the crust. 

This law is useful, and helps a ski runner to 
secure good ski-ing in spring. Again and again while 
starting a run from some high glacier pass on a spring 
morning I have had vile running on marble crust for 
the first thousand feet, and perfect running lower 
down, for the lower I descended the milder had been 
one night's frost and consequently the better the 
crust formed by that night's frost. 

Of course it is usually possible to wait till the sun 
has superficially softened the crust and in this case, 
marble crust, perforated crust, and film crust all 
soften into 'Telemark crust,' a wonderful surface. 
But the great advantage about perforated and film 



THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT 115 

crust is that one need not wait for the sun. One can 
start from some high club-hut with the first light and 
secure excellent ski-ing, thereby gaining the lower 
levels while the snow is still hard, for below six or 
seven thousand feet the snow is rapidly reduced to 
wet, heavy dangerous stuff, the moment the May sun 
strikes it 



MAKING THE BEST OF BAD CONDITIONS 

Thaw or wind may spoil the best snow ; no new 
snow may fall for days and even weeks, and the ski- 
runner who knows nothing of snowcraft may take 
to curling in despair. 

And yet a knowledge of snow will enable the per- 
severing runner to obtain wonderful ski-ing on days 
when ski-ing seems impossible. Let us suppose that 
it has rained heavily up to eight or nine thousand feet 
and that this rain has been followed by a sharp frost 
and a week or so of cloudless weather. The snow that 
has been rained upon will be re-frozen when the cold 
returns and will present the same solid hard crusted 
surface till a new snow falls. 

But this crust can be made to yield good ski-ing. 

You have only to reverse your normal winter 
tactics. Instead of seeking out northern slopes and 
shady slopes, try to arrange your descent on southern 
slopes and to time your descent for the time when 
the sun is shining most direct on your line of descent. 
The crust, however hard, will soften a little in the 
sun and this superficial softening will be just enough 
to enable your skis to find purchase for stemming 



n6 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

turns and Christianias. Woe betide the man who 
can only Telemark ! The good stemmer and Chris- 
tiania expert will enjoy wonderful running while the 
Telemark king is badly at sea. 

Sometimes wet fohn which brings rain is followed 
by dry fohn which brings fine weather. Dry fohn 
is a peculiar warm, dry feeling in the air, less a wind 
than an atmosphere. The sky may be cloudless and 
windless, but the dry fohn may send up the tempera- 
ture in the sun to tropic heights. In this case the 
hard crust will be melted to a depth of an inch or 
two producing ' Telemark crust/ i.e. typical spring 
conditions. 

The nights too may be much milder, and in this 
case the crust next morning will resemble the per- 
forated crust of spring — see above — rather than the 
slabby icy marble crust of winter. This winter per- 
forated crust is commoner than one might suppose. 
It is pockmarked, and clearly differentiated from 
any other kind of snow. The perforated crust is 
useful, for it gives good running at any time when 
the sun is not shining on it. 

Remember the law that I have quoted, ' provided 
the frost is sufficiently severe to produce a solid crust, 
the milder the frost the better the crust/ 

I remember a period of three weeks at Miirren — 
three weeks of cloudless skies and perfect weather. 
Unfortunately a day's rain had preceded this fine 
period, so all slopes below ten thousand feet were 
covered with hard crust. Periods of cold were 
varied by days of dry fohn, and when the dry fohn 
was in the air we had perfect running on typical 



THE ELEMENTS OF SNOWCRAFT 117 

spring ' Telemark crust.' I remember an ascent of 
the Fauhorn during this period. The snow on the 
top thousand feet was marble crust, but lower down 
the dry fohn had produced perforated crust. (The 
lower we went, the milder had been the nights and 
hence the better the crust.) Even the top slopes 
were slightly softened by the sun, and the last four 
thousand feet gave us perfect running. So, when 
rain has been followed by fine weather reverse your 
winter tactics. You must try to apply spring snow- 
craft. Choose south slopes in preference to north 
slopes, low altitudes in preference to high altitudes, 
and sunny rather than shady slopes. 

Sometimes good running is obtained when the 
night's frost has been unusually severe, for then the 
hard crust gets broken up and disintegrated into 
numberless wonderful crystals which yield perfect 
ski-ing. But to produce this effect, the frost must 
be helped by dampness, so that this disintegrated 
crust is only found on slopes near rivers or streams. 
It is the river mist which produces this effect. 

Of course the thaw may be so severe that if you 
are staying at a low-lying centre the snow may have 
been stripped from the lower slopes. But it is sur- 
prising how little snow is necessary for fine running. 
A quarter of an inch on mown grass gives great sport. 
Remember too that slopes look much more snowless 
from below than from above. If the slopes are com- 
posed of sloping terraces interspersed with steeper 
slopes, the steeper slopes will perhaps be bare of 
snow and the sloping shelves above covered with 
snow. From below you see only the steep denuded 



n8 CROSS-COUNTRY SKI-ING 

slopes and not the gentler slopes which hold snow, so 
that a slope which appears from below quite snow- 
less will seem snow-covered from above. 

When no new snow has fallen for a long period the 
familiar runs will be covered with tracks, but it is 
always possible to get good ski-ing by diverging from 
the beaten track. The crowd follow the line of least 
resistance, gentle traverses across a slope. A bold 
straight run will often enable you to find perfect 
powder. If the run is among trees, there will often 
be yards of unspoiled snow near or between the trees, 
for the beginner gives trees a wide berth. 

Snow which is thoroughly melted does not stick. 
Snow sticks when it is in an intermediate stage be- 
tween melting and freezing or when melting snow 
overlies cold powder snow. But snow which has 
been thoroughly melted and then re-frozen will not 
stick if it is again melted. It may be slow but it 
will not stick. An inch of wet slushy snow on well 
mown grass gives wonderful running. 

For ' Avalanches ' see Mountain Craft, where I have 
dealt at length with this difficult branch of snowcraft. 



Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh University Press